Idris Elba’s turn as Nelson Mandela became infinitely more pertinent in the context of the great man’s death on December 5th after a long and ultimately unsuccessful battle against illness. He was 95.

Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk To FreedomNaomie Harris, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom Poster
Idris Elba (left) stars as Nelson Mandela, with Naomie Harris (right) playing his companion and Winnie

The Wire actor was tremendously honoured to take on the role, and despite the film being criticized for trying to fit too much into a feature, his performance has been lauded - and all this while he was producing an album about the late South African hero.

“I was working with musicians and townships and local smaller bands, and it was the most satisfying thing” said Elba. “I finally got to express what my fears, trepidations and triumphs were by making that album.” Elba also shot a documentary about the making of the album, which he hopes will have his audience “looking at South Africa in a very interesting way post Mandela." (East London Times)

Elba has been a long-term musician throughout his career, and considers himself as rapper as much as he is an actor. He presented the Channel 4 show, How Hip Hip Changed the World.

News of Mandela’s death was revealed to the attendees of the Long Walk to Freedom premiere to a sea of gasps. Elba was visibly distressed on stage as the announcement was made. He 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.”

Producer Anant Singh was charged with telling the crowd the sad news. “I wanted to advise you that President [Jacob] Zuma of South Africa has announced the passing of Madiba at 9.30pm tonight,” he said. “He stated that Madiba had departed and was at peace. “Our nation has lost it’s greatest son.

Watch the trailer for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

“Zindzi and Zenani [two of Mandela's daughters who were at the premiere] are at the hotel – they wanted the movie to continue – and our hearts and prayers go out to everybody.” He then called for a minutes silence. (Metro)

After the premiere, Prince William paid tribute: “I just want to say it’s obviously extreme and tragic news. We were just reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was, and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now.”