(Weinstein Company | Warner Bros. | Showtime)Filmmakers have been captivated by the story of Nelson Mandela's fight against apartheid since before he was released from prison in 1990. And as the eventual leader of South Africa his story has only become more interesting since then. On Thursday the beloved world leader died, leaving behind a world inspired by his acts of forgiveness and unity. Playing such an inspirational figure is obviously a daunting task for actors, but here's a look back at a few of the most noteworthy portrayals of Mandela.
Idris Elba in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Idris Elba has garnered early praise for his new film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. To research the role he told the Associated Press he met with Mandela's second wife, Winnie, who told him she needed to see a "complex" man onscreen.
"I was like, 'Damn, do I have this performance in me?'â " the actor said. "Everyone knows what Mandela looks like and sounds like and I'm not like any of that. It was a massive challenge, but it was time to grow up and really put my acting chops out there."
Morgan Freeman in Invictus
Morgan Freeman was nominated for an Oscar for his work playing Nelson Mandela in the 2009 movie Invictus. He later told CNN the most nerve-racking part of it was watching the finished movie with Mandela himself.
"I was sitting right next to him. He pointed at the screen and said 'I know that fella.' So, yeah, I think he liked it."
Terrence Howard in Winnie Mandela
Terrence Howard played the iconic leader across from Jennifer Hudson in the biopic on Mandela's second wife, Winnie Mandela. Unfortunately Winnie Mandela, along with many South African leaders, was not pleased with the production since she was not consulted.
Clarke Peters in Endgame
(From the BBC)Nelson Mandela was a supporting character in the BBC's Endgame, which focused on Britain's covert involvement in actions against the apartheid government of South Africa. Clarke Peters told The Telegraph of being offered the part, "I was absolutely overawed. Wouldn’t you be? How would you like to play the Queen?"
Dennis Haysbert in Goodbye Bafana
You might recognize Dennis Haysbert's distinct voice from his Allstate insurance commercials. The actor was called upon to play Mandela in the 2007 movie Goodbye Bafana, which told the story of Mandela's prison guard, played by Joseph Fiennes.
Sidney Poitier in Mandela and de Klerk
Sidney Poitier starred alongside Michael Caine in this 1997 behind-the-scenes look at the events leading up to Mandela's release from prison after 27 years.
Danny Glover in Mandela
HBO tapped Danny Glover to play Mandela in its 1987 look at the leader's life while he was still in prison. Watch the promo for the movie above from 1:40 to about 2:00. (Unfortunately the very next thing HBO happened to be promoting that night was Soul Man.)