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Idris Elba on Playing Nelson Mandela: 'Those Were Big Shoes to Fill'

Idris Elba on Playing Nelson Mandela: 'Those Were Big Shoes to Fill'

Idris Elba shows off his serious side in this new feature from Vogue magazine’s January 2014 issue, on newsstands December 23.

Here’s what the 41-year-old actor had to share with the mag:

On playing Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: “I’ve been told I have presence. I’ve been told I’m charismatic. But I’m not Nelson Mandela. Everybody has a sense of who Mandela is—his nobleness, his white hair, his voice. Those were big shoes to fill. I felt like that would be the challenge: to create Mr. Mandela’s presence on film for people who have never met him.”

Laura Linney, on Idris’ star quality: “What’s most impressive to me is not that he’s as dynamic and sexy and masculine as he is—and how powerfully that translates on-screen—but that he can damper it down. When star quality is aligned with good acting, that’s pretty powerful. George Clooney has that. A few people have that—not many. I certainly think Idris does.”

On having to prove he could play Nelson Mandela: “I stood up and talked to these extras. I’m looking them in the eye, and I know what they’re thinking ‘You’re not South African. You don’t look like Mandela. Show me something.’”

For more from Idris, visit Vogue.com.

FYI: Idris is wearing a Superdry Commodity Slim Chinos in green and a Superdry + Timothy Everest Town Coat.

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