Idris Elba Talks “Intimidating” Nelson Mandela Role, James Bond Rumors & More

'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' Poster

‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ Poster

As the world tracks updates on Nelson Mandela ‘s critical health condition , actor Idris Elba is revealing what it’s like to take on the role of beloved revolutionary and former President in the forthcoming movie, Long Walk To Freedom .

In a recent interview with London’s Independent , he speaks on how the role may be his most challenging yet:

“To call the prospect of playing Nelson Mandela intimidating would be to put it lightly. But it’s a massive honor to play this saint amongst men. I was honestly confused about why they came to me.

I thought, ‘You can’t be serious! You chose me out of everyone you could have gone to?’ Then I found out that Nelson Mandela was into ‘The Wire.’ I thought, ‘It’s amazing – he might have kicked back and watched the Wire box set!’ The role was definitely the biggest challenge of my life. I look and sound nothing like the man – but hopefully I’ve pulled it off.”

Currently starring on the crime drama Luther , as well as The Pavement Psychologist , which he wrote and directed, Idris also addresses rumors that he is set to play the next James Bond (which we’d LOVE to see), being a role model, and the impact of his role on HBO’s The Wire . Read more snippets below.

On playing the next James Bond:

“It’s just a rumour. But what a compliment that my name has been attached to that role! Of course, it’s not my job – it’s very much Daniel Craig’s – but I’m flattered by the notion of it. I’m also encouraged that audiences are being more colour-blind these days. If people are associating me with such a job, I think that’s great.”

On if he considers himself a role model:

“I’d like to think so – not necessarily by giving talks, but by my actions. I’d also like to think that people from outside my community could take inspiration from what I’ve done. I’m very satisfied with how things have gone. Ten years ago, I’d never have imagined doing all this.

Yesterday I was called a ‘cultural icon’. How did I react to that? I laughed loudly and said, ‘What?’”

On HBO’s The Wire jump starting his career:

“I would not be here without The Wire. My career would not be what it is without that show. Even though it ended five years ago, people still approach me in the street to give me compliments about it. It has really stuck in their minds.”

Directed by Justin Chadwick , Long Walk also stars Naomie Harris ( Skyfall ) and Robert Hobbs ( Safe House ), and will premiere January 3, 2014.

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