The Wire star to play Nelson Mandela

Idris Elba. Photo/Getty Images
Idris Elba. Photo/Getty Images

A film based on Nelson Mandela's best-selling autobiography Long Walk to Freedom will be released in November, producers said on Monday.

The biopic, entitled Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, is to star British actor Idris Elba as the iconic anti-apartheid hero and will trace his life from childhood to imprisonment and presidency in 1994.

"We are honoured to have had Madiba license us the film rights to his fascinating life story," said producer Anant Singh in a statement, using the popular name for Mandela.

Singh said he was pleased when Mandela looked at some of the images of Elba in the trademark Madiba shirt, and remarked, "Is that me?"

"This recognition and affirmation from Madiba is extremely satisfying and makes our journey worthwhile," he said.

Elba played Stringer Bell in the acclaimed TV series The Wire before securing roles in blockbusters Prometheus and the upcoming Pacific Rim.

Mandela's book, an inspiration to many, was published in 1994, and has been translated into several languages. Singh was awarded the film rights in 1996.

The film features a host of local actors and was shot at various locations in the Eastern Cape, Mandela's birthplace, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Producers say it is the only motion picture that has the endorsement of the Mandela and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the centre that manages his legacy.

Several documentaries and films inspired by the life of the 94-year-old statesman have been made over the years.

Early this year it was announced that The Weinstein Company had acquired the North American distribution rights for the film.

The frail Mandela is currently recuperating at his Johannesburg home following several bouts in hospital for respiratory infections.

- AFP

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