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‘I’m honoured to have stood in his shoes’

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MAN OF THE MOMENT: Idris Elba returns to his conflicted roots as Detective John Luther in BBC Entertainments Luther, after receiving worldwide acclaim for his sterling portrayal of South Africas iconic and first democratically elected president  Nelson Mandela  in Justin Chadwicks biopic, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

With the world in mourning over the passing of Tata Madiba, Idris Elba can take solace in the fact that he got to walk in our iconic former President’s shoes – on camera, that is. With his popular TV series, Luther, returning to BBC Entertainment for a third instalment, Debashine Thangevelo looks at what kind of angst viewers can expect…

 

WITH presidents around the world, the British Royal Family, numerous dignitaries and Hollywood actors sending through their condolences on the passing of Nelson Mandela (Tata Madiba passed away peacefully on Thursday night at 8.50pm) – you can imagine how emotionally-charged the country was with a nation in mourning.

Just a week earlier, his legacy, which was captured in Justin Chadwick’s biopic, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, was introduced on the South African big screens.

Chatting to New York Daily News, a shocked Elba, commented: “I am stunned at this very moment. In mourning with the rest of the world and Madiba’s family. We have lost one of the greatest human beings to have walked this earth. I feel honoured to be associated to him. He is in a better place now.”

Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Madiba in Invictus, was equally saddened. He said: “Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Although the sadness over such a greatness continues to pervade, the celebration of his legacy lives on.

For Elba, channelling the essence of Madiba in the movie, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that he will undoubtedly cherish for the rest of his career.

Back to his crime drama, Luther, the new season throws a few interesting developments. While the intense pressure holds strong for his conflicted character, Detective John Luther, he is confronted by a vengeful ex-cop determined to settle old scores. Oh, there is also a new interest on the cards for him…

On the overall theme of the new season, Elba told Collider.com: “Internally, we wanted to get closer to Luther and not follow a route of him getting more and more depressed, taking drugs and wanting to shoot himself. We wanted to get to know him a little bit better and find out what he would do under pressure. Understanding the legacy of everything he’s lived with, how do we get into that? Having him investigated was the ultimate autopsy on him.

“And we wanted to make that stretch over the season, so that at the end, when we say the last words, ‘Now what?’, we wanted the audience to say, ‘Now what?’, and literally look at Luther and go, “I don’t know where you can go from here, pal.” We wanted to really look at the weight of his actions and how that’s changed him, or not changed him. At the same time, we want to really keep our audience thrilled. Our bad guys in Luther are always vivid and horrible, but we wanted to enhance that this season, elevating it in a darker way. That was the theme we wanted to explore.”

As for his character’s trans- formation over the seasons, he explained: “In season one, Luther was coming out of the end of a very weird, dark time. It was stuff that we didn’t really explore, but post-traumatic stuff happened. He was willing to kill someone, practically, in the first season, in order to get to the truth.

“By season three, I think he’s stabilised himself somewhat, even though he’s gone through such trauma. He’s managed to stabilise himself, so that he doesn’t get to that place as quickly and as recklessly. There’s been a massive change for him. I wouldn’t say he’s grown up, but he’s definitely started to grasp onto the idea that he just can’t get away with the way he is living. That’s a big, massive arc. And we see Luther smiling, not from irony, but from actual happiness, a couple of times.”

On this being an exceptionally big year for him with Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Thor 2 and Pacific Rim added to the mix, he offered: “It’s all out of sequence, by the time it comes out. This year looks incredibly busy for me because they’re all coming out, at the same time. Really, the balance is being able to not over-saturate myself, in terms of all these films and stuff coming out at the same time.

“I’m also continuing my career with stuff that may end up coming out later. Mandela was definitely a very, very challenging role for me, in the way that Luther is. It’s very absorbing. Doing Mandela about a year ago now, and then doing Luther, they’re both very complex characters that are demanding of my time. But, this is what I do for a living. I enjoy the process of jumping from one person to another.”

Talk about being the man of the moment right now – this is history in the making right there!

 

• Luther airs on BBC Entertainment (DStv Channel 120) on December 29 and 30 at 8.30pm.

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