Winnie Mandela? She wore me out! Actress Naomie Harris spent one year 'exorcising' Nelson's ex-wife after the role 'took its toll'

December 6, 2013 12:07 PM

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Winnie Mandela? She wore me out! Actress Naomie Harris spent one year 'exorcising' Nelson's ex-wife after the role 'took its toll'

Playing Winnie Mandela took such a toll on Naomie Harris that she hasn’t acted for a year since completing the role.

The actress told me she’s spent the past 12 months ‘exorcising Winnie’ after portraying her in the film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. The movie is about her husband Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid, and the 27 years he spent incarcerated.

‘Mandela’s always said Winnie had a tougher time than him,’ Naomie said. She noted that conditions for Nelson were tremendously harsh during the years on Robben Island, but he was at least allowed some time with his comrades, ‘so there was camaraderie’.

Naomie’s powerful performance does provide us with a palpable sense of the horrors she might have suffered, though.

The actress spent so much time reading books and watching uncut documentary footage of Mrs Mandela, whom she plays from the age of 21 to 57, that the controversial South African got under her skin.

‘She got stuck in me, in a deep way that no other character has ever done so far. So in terms of the toll, it was a big one,’ she admitted.

When Idris Elba — phenomenal as Mandela — arranged for her to meet the real Winnie she was terrified, but wanted to do it to ‘get her essence’.

Naomie has been on the road a lot recently. She travelled extensively to promote Bond movie Skyfall (in which she plays Miss Moneypenny).

And she’s been doing the same for The Road To Freedom, directed by Justin Chadwick, since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Her next screen job will be Bond 24, which starts shooting next year.

I mention that director Sam Mendes has said he wants Moneypenny to kick a heck of a lot more butt in the next 007 outing. Her face drains. ‘More training for me,’ she sighs, in mock horror.

Actually, though, she loves being a Bond woman. Yes, that’s right ... no more ‘Bond girl’. Naomie is emphatic that neither she nor Berenice Marlohe, Skyfall’s other femme fatale, fit that outdated label.

Though as she stepped out of her limo dressed in designer finery last night for Long Walk To Freedom’s Royal Film Performance in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, plenty of folk clocked exactly who she was.

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Sam Mende's National Theatre production of King Lear with Simon Russell Beale in the title role and Kate Fleetwood, Anna Maxwell Martin and Olivia Vinall as his daughters, will be broadcast into selected cinemas in the UK live from the Olivier on May 1 for National Theatre Live.

It’s one of several big productions going out on NT Live in the New Year. The Donmar’s Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston will screen on January 30, while the National’s mega-hit War Horse beams from the New London into cinemas on February 27.

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Awards season has already started in the U.S., but it kicks off here today with the Sky Women In Film And TV Awards.

I can tell you that Kelly Marcel has won for her screenplay of Disney’s Saving Mr Banks (she also wrote the film version of Fifty Shades Of Grey).

Then, on Sunday, the Moet British Independent Film Awards are being held at Old Billingsgate Market with Starred Up and The Selfish Giant in the running for honours.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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