Thursday, March 6, 2014


If there’s one actor who had a spectacular 2013, it’s, without question, Elba. He started 2013 in earnest with his role as Stacker Pentecost in Guillermo del Toro’s long-awaited sci-fi summer blockbuster Pacific Rim, released July 12. Elba’s presence was so powerful Warner Bros. ran trailers prominently featuring his character’s prophetic declaration, “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!” Elba then tackled an expanded role as Heimdall in Thor: The Dark World, released November 8. Combined worldwide box office for the two films: more than $1 billion! But money doesn’t always equal respect. And respect is exactly what he earned for his portrayal of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in the biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, widely released on Christmas Day. After seeing the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney raved, “While Elba’s gifts have been tapped in his television work on The Wire and Luther, few, if any, films have showcased the British actor’s range quite so expansively as Mandela. From an early scene with him in training as an amateur boxer he shows a rangy physicality, an absolute ease in his body that enhances his magnetism. That dynamic presence feeds the warmth as well as the authority and dignity of the man. He’s also uncannily like the real Mandela in his voice and accent work.” Bringing the essence of the international icon to the big screen was a demanding task for Elba. “Everybody has a sense of who Mandela is—his nobleness, his white hair, his voice,” he told Vogue. “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.” It’s that presence Elba addressed on Charlie Rose this past December after Mandela’s passing. Elba’s aura, similar to what Mandela possessed, is why he was director Justin Chadwick’s only choice for the role, even though there was no physical resemblance to the titan. “It’s an odd thing to sort of admit about yourself, but I’ve been told [my entire] career, all my life actually, that I have a presence and an aura,” he confessed to Rose.

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