Hackney actor who plays Mandela in film about his life pays homage to the Nobel Peace Prize winner

Idris Elba (Nelson Mandela) in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Idris Elba (Nelson Mandela) in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - Credit: Archant

Hackney’s poster boy actor Idris Elba paid his respects to South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, who passed away last night.

Actors Idris Elba and Naomie Harris attend the Royal film performance of "Mandela: Long Walk to Free

Actors Idris Elba and Naomie Harris attend the Royal film performance of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" on December 5, 2013 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images) - Credit: Getty Images

Elba, who grew up in Holly Street, Dalston and plays Mandela in a film about his life called Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, paid homage to the icon this morning on Twitter.

The Wire and Luther actor said: “I’m stunned, crushed, in mourning with you and his family, I feel only honoured to have portrayed him. He’s in a better place now. RIP Nelson Mandela.”

Last night the 41-year-old actor attended a red carpet premiere of the film in Leicester Square, which was attended by Prince William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge, and Mandela’s family.

Shortly before the film commenced, Mandela’s daughter Zindzi told the Mirror: “I think he [Elba] is brilliant, he has captured the essence so well.

“He has never even had the opportunity to meet my father.”

She and her sister Zenani were told during the film that their father had died and left the cinema, according to a statement from the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

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Members of the cast including Elba, crew and guests were told about Mandela’s death at the end of the film as the credits were rolling.

This was followed by a minute’s silence from the audience.

In a statement after the film, Elba said: “What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

“I am stunned at this very moment, in mourning with the rest of the world and Madiba’s family. We have lost one of the greatest human beings to have walked this earth. I only feel honoured to be associated with him. He is in a better place now.”

Anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela has been ill since June when he was admitted to hospital for a recurring lung infection.

He spent 27 years in incarceration after fighting against the racially segregated system of apartheid enforced by white minority rule in South Africa and became the country’s first democratically elected president in 1994.