As we celebrate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela on his birthday, it’s important that we look back at the icon’s many portrayals in film throughout history.
Actors such as Morgan Freeman, Terrence Howard, Idris Elba and several others have had the honor of walking in the shoes of this legendary activist and first President of South Africa.
Take a look at Nelson Mandela in the movies.
Idris Elba stars as the celebrated freedom fighter in the highly anticipated film (out November 29) based on Mandela’s 1994 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. Actress Naomie Harris plays his former wife Winnie Mandela.
Terrence Howard portrayed Nelson Mandela in the unreleased biopic Winnie with Jennifer Hudson playing his former wife, Winnie Mandela.
British actor David Harewood played Mandela in this BBC biopic on the life of Winnie Mandela, who was played by actress Sophie Okonedo.
Morgan Freeman starred as a recently elected Nelson Mandela in the 2009 film Invictus. Freeman earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, while his co-star Matt Damon was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
The Wire star Clarke Peters played Nelson Mandela in this gripping film on the tense discussions between the South African government and the African National Congress that led to the end of apartheid.
Dennis Haysbert gives a moving performance as Nelson Mandela in Goodbye Bafana, which explored Mandela’s relationship with prison guard James Gregory during his years of imprisonment.
Sidney Poitier portrayed Nelson Mandela in this 1997 TV movie opposite Michael Caine, who played Frederick Willem De Klerk, the former South African president who helped usher the end of apartheid in 1990.
Possibly the most well-known Mandela biopic is HBO’s Mandela starring Danny Glover (pictured here with Mandela and Harry Belafonte) as the activist-turned-president and Alfre Woodard as his wife and confidant, Winnie.