Saturday, 4 January 2014

Talking Pictures: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Bono and The Edge talk Movies and Mandela


purchase online
Sunday, January 05, 9:30 AM
Annenberg Auditorium
+ Add to My Festival Calendar

Standby tickets at the door (as available) Call 760-778-8979 for more info.

188 Minute Running Time 
Program: Talking Pictures
Preceded by a screening of MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM 

Nominated for three Golden Globes (including Best Actor for Idris Elba and Best Song for Bono and bandmates The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr., alongwith Brian Burden), Mandela provides an emotionally riveting overview of five decades in the life of a man who changed the world, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. In turns a gripping political thriller and engrossing biopic, the film was a labor of love, taking 15 years to make it to the screen. That proves to be a blessing, as Idris Elba is the perfect actor to embody the spirit of Mandela, just as Naomie Harris, his co-star, is perfectly cast as Nelson’s wife and comrade, Winnie Mandela. Join these co-stars, along with composers Bono and The Edge, as they talk about their inspiration in making this stunning tribute to truth, justice and reconciliation.

Packaged Films...

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom  

Naomie Harris: 'Winnie Mandela Is A Very Complex Woman'

POWERFUL PORTRAYAL: Harris puts in a wonderful performance as Winnie Mandela
FROM THE moment it got the green light, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedombecame one of the hotly-tipped movies of 2014. But the film was to garner added poignancy last year on December 5, when the world learned of the sad passing of Nelson Mandela.
Indeed, the film, which is released this week, now serves as a beautiful tribute, as British star Idris Elbs puts in a wholly impressive portrayal of the former South African president.
But not to be overshadowed is British actress Naomie Harris who delivers an equally stunning performance as Winnie Mandela. Getting to grips with a South African Xhosa accent in order to undertake the role, Harris gives a powerful portrayal of Nelson Mandela’s most well-known wife; a woman who has been described as both a saint and sinner, depending on who was offering the account.
A forceful freedom fighter, Winnie, who was married to Mandela for 38 years, fought alongside her husband for the end of apartheid in South Africa, and continued that fight in the 27 years that Mandela languished in prison.
Some history books have since hailed her as a hero; a Mother Africa-type figure, whose struggle was as significant as that of her husband. Others have condemned her as a tyrant for the violent tactics she employed in her fight for racial equality.
Harris believes that Winnie is a combination of all those things.
“She [Winnie] is a combination of all of that and that’s what makes her so fascinating,” says Harris.
“She is capable of immense rage and violence and she is a warrior. But she’s also a mother with heart and compassion. She’s caring; she’s kind of a Robin Hood character.
"She’s been accused of embezzling funds, but one of the things the judges discovered was that she was taking those funds and using them to feed her local community. So she is incredibly complex, but that’s what’s so fascinating about her.
“We try to paint people as black or white, but we really live in the grey. Good people do bad things and bad people do good things, and Winnie is right up there with the most complex of those type of people.”
Asked if she felt a sense of pressure to portray such a controversial figure, Harris admits that she did – until she met the woman herself.
“Our producer Anant Singh is very good friends with the Mandelas and our director Justin Chadwick spent a lot of time with Winnie in particular. So I did feel a sense of pressure because they had a very specific view about who she was; that she was warm and cuddly, very much like Mother Africa.
“But from doing my own research, I discovered there was a whole other side to Winne and that side had to be portrayed in order to really capture who she is. So I felt pressure from them to do the warm and cuddly Winnie. But Winnie herself was the one person who alleviated that pressure.
“I had the privilege of sitting down with her; we had dinner together and I was able to ask her about her life. She said to me: ‘All I want is for you to portray me truthfully, so go and do your research and then tell the truth.’ She told me, ‘I don’t have any direction for you about how I should be played.’ And she was the only person I spoke to who didn’t have any direction about how she should be played.

DYNAMIC DUO: Idris Elba and Naomie Harris
“That really made me feel liberated to explore some of the dark sides – like I know she had a problem with alcohol addiction. That was never written in the script, but I made sure that whenever I could, I’d have a glass of alcohol in my hand to indicate that she was slightly intoxicated at some points! But Winnie was very gracious and very generous in the way that she allowed me to go about it.”
Is Winnie happy with the film?
“Yeah, she was at the premiere in South Africa and she is really, really pleased. She called both myself and Idris ‘honorary South Africans’ and she said that this portrayal really, truthfully portrayed her.
“She also said it was too real and too harrowing and that she didn’t want to see it again! But she was over the moon; she thinks it’s a faithful representation of her life. For me, that was a great honour.”
But Harris admits that the downside to playing such a widely known individual is the danger of people mixing her up with the character she’s playing. (We journalists present during the interview chuckled shamefully as we realised we had in fact been quizzing Harris as if she was Winnie!)
“There’s a huge sense of responsibility with this type of film that you don’t get with fictional roles,” Harris confirms. “People tend to mix you up with the character you’re playing and if that character is a real, living person that they have strong ideas about, they can mix you up with that as well.
“Also, you become asked to be a spokesperson for the person you’re playing and I can’t do that. I can’t justify Winnie’s actions. I’m not a spokesperson for Winnie; that’s not what I signed up to do. I signed up to be an actor and do my very best portraying her life. It’s up to other people to debate the politics.”
Politics aside, Harris’s performance will surely go down as one of her best to date. Famed for her roles in 28 Days LaterPirates of the Caribbean and the hit James Bond flick Skyfall – which saw her become the first black actress to play Ms. Moneypenny – Harris describes her latest outing as her “most challenging role to date.”
Among the challenges was getting to grips with the Xhosa accent, but Harris says her accent coach was wonderful – and there were plenty of others on hand to offer advice.
“Everybody around us was South African and they could hear if we were messing up the accent – and they’d correct us if we did. Anyone would correct us; an extra, the person doing lights – anyone! That’s the South African way, so we had to get it right. But the correction was never said as a criticism. It was more like, ‘We are one and we’re all working towards a common goal, so I’m here to help and support you.’"
She adds: “I’ve worked in South Africa before, doing the film Blood and Oil, so I had a real sense of the country already. But what always strikes me is the warmth of the people.
"It’s always fascinating to me that in countries where there’s been war and huge upheaval, the people are often the warmest you’ll come across.
"It makes it hard to understand how it’s possible for there to have been those kind of grievances in the country. That’s how I feel about South Africa, because everybody I meet there is so incredibly warm.”
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom is in cinemas from January 3

Naomie Harris opens up on Jonathan Ross about meeting Winnie Mandela in tribal print miniskirt and sheer top

'I was absolutely terrified': Naomie Harris opens up about meeting Winnie Mandela as she promotes film in tribal print miniskirt and sheer top

She has received rave reviews for her portrayal of Winnie Mandela in her latest film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.
But Naomie Harris has revealed she found the task ‘hugely intimidating’, particularly meeting the former wife of the late South African President for the first time.
Appearing on The Jonathan Ross Show, which airs on Saturday evening, the 37-year-old said: ‘I was absolutely terrified about meeting her because I’d read so much about her.  She’s such a formidable woman and I didn’t know how she was going to react to me.  
Screen star: Naomie Harris appears on The Jonathan Ross Show on Saturday evening
Screen star: Naomie Harris appears on The Jonathan Ross Show on Saturday evening
‘I didn’t know whether she was happy about me being cast or how she felt about herself being portrayed in the movie, but she was incredibly generous.’
    But it seems her portrayal went down well as the actress told Jonathan: ‘I met her in South Africa again when we had the South African premiere and she was in the audience with her daughter and lots of the Mandela family.  
    ‘She was actually crying and she said that was the first time she felt her story had been captured on film.’
    Scared: Naomie spoke about the first time she met Winnie, who she plays in the film
    Scared: Naomie spoke about the first time she met Winnie, who she plays in the film
    Leggy: The actress showed off her legs in a tribal print miniskirt
    Leggy: The actress showed off her legs in a tribal print miniskirt

    Dressing to impress to talk about the film, in which she stars alongside Idris Elba, the British actress wore an tribal print miniskirt which showed off her long legs.
    She teamed it with a sheer T-shirt that revealed her bra beneath, but making sure it wasn’t too racy she added a smart blazer.
    Completing her TV look she wore her hair loose around her shoulders and a pair of stilettos.
    Dynamic: The star had plenty to talk about during the interview including being part of Bond
    Dynamic: The star had plenty to talk about during the interview including being part of Bond
    Dynamic: The star had plenty to talk about during the interview including being part of Bond 
    Revelations: Naomie admits that she is a terrible driver and didn't do her own car stunts in Bond
    Revelations: Naomie admits that she is a terrible driver and didn't do her own car stunts in Bond
    Naomie, who is well known for her role in the James Bond film Skyfall, admitted that despite being involved in a big driving sequence in the movie, she wasn’t doing the driving; it was steered from on top of the car.
    ‘I’m actually a useless driver,’ she confessed to Jonathan.  ‘Really bad.  I’ve had six car accidents.’
    She explained: ‘There was one when I was reversing and I hit my neighbour which was just really awkward because I lived there for another two years in that block of flats.’
    Pleased: Naomie (pictured here in character alongside Idris Elba) said Winnie Mandela cried when she watched the film
    Pleased: Naomie (pictured here in character alongside Idris Elba) said Winnie Mandela cried when she watched the film
    The actress is joined on the show by Jennifer Saunders and Paddy McGuiness, while music is provided by Jamie Cullum.
    The Jonathan Ross Show airs on Saturday 4th January at 9.50pm on ITV. 
    Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom is out now. 
    Sofa time: (L-R) Jamie Cullum, Naomie Harris, Jonathan Ross, Jennifer Saunders and Paddy McGuinness
    Sofa time: (L-R) Jamie Cullum, Naomie Harris, Jonathan Ross, Jennifer Saunders and Paddy McGuinness

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    Sunday, 29 December 2013

    From Miss Moneypenny to Mrs Mandela, Naomie Harris on the role of a lifetime

    From Miss Moneypenny to Mrs Mandela, Naomie Harris on the role of a lifetime

    As the world mourns Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris takes on her most significant role yet, playing the late South African leader’s wife Winnie in the timely Mandela biopic

    Naomi wears a patent leather dress with red lace,£2,135, Jonathan Saunders at The Shop at Bluebird

    Updated: 14:37, 13 December 2013

    'Age 20 I was so broody,’ says Naomie Harris. ‘I’d left home. I was studying at Cambridge. I wanted a child. I’m so glad I had a baby brother, because otherwise I’d have had a child at 20. He was the best form of contraception ever because I realised you’ve got to be seriously ready for a complete life overhaul.’ Today, Harris, 37, who found fame on the small screen in the Channel 4 adaptation of White Teeth in 2002, and in the cinema with 28 Days LaterPirates of the Caribbean and Skyfall, still looks 20, curled up on a sofa in a white dressing gown and slippers. But there is a new gravitas. ‘Babies suck energy and time, and you’ve got to be ready to give all of that up. I wasn’t back then. I definitely feel ready now.’
    She says she admires the way her friend Thandie Newton has ‘navigated family and career’. ‘She’s pregnant with her third child now and she’s really successful. From talking to people, having a baby actually makes you a better actor,’ she insists. ‘Because it’s all about life experience. You can only bring what you’ve experienced on to the screen. And this other huge life-changing event, it just makes you more whole, and more able to emote and give more.’
    Harris won’t reveal whether she is in a relationship or if she is planning to have a baby alone. At last year’s BAFTAs and the Cannes Film Festival in May she was arm-in-arm with a man called Peter, but she won’t confirm whether today’s warm glow is down to him. ‘I was told very early on not to talk about relationships and I think it’s great advice because it’s all very well when things are going well. I’ve seen that with actresses, they’ve talked about how in love they are, how they’re getting married. And it’s so beautiful to read. But then it doesn’t work out and you've got to answer all those questions about your personal life when it’s still so raw for you.’
    She has said that early abandonment by her father has left her wary of forming relationships. Growing up was a struggle for Harris and her Jamaican mother Lisselle Kayla, who was just 18 when she had her daughter.
    Harris’ Trinidadian father left before she was born, and she only met him for the first time in 2009. ‘It’s at the root of a lot of my fear about settling down.’
    As an adult, she lived for years out of two suitcases ‘like a gypsy’. ‘I’d come back to London and rent a place on a short-term let. But I realised that does your head in. You have to have a home. And doing what I do, you need it even more because you’re constantly uprooting yourself. You need to be really grounded when you get back home. One of my favourite things is cleaning my house. Getting down on my hands and knees is a way of connecting with your roots, putting your energy back into a space.’
    Her new home is an Edwardian property in Finsbury Park, on the same street where she grew up and where her mother still lives. ‘I love community. I know pretty much all my neighbours, which is so rare in London.’ She ripped everything out, had a new kitchen and bathroom installed and repainted everywhere. ‘But then you realise you’ve completely taken the soul out of it,’ she laughs. ‘When I first visited, it had a lovely family living there, so it had their spirit and the kids’ dirty handprints on the wall. By doing all that renovation I’d ripped the heart out of it, so now I’m trying to put life back, have kids come round and mess it up.’
    Naomie HarrisSequined dress, £2,100, Roksanda Ilincic at selfridges.comWhen Naomie was growing up, her mother was the anchor in her life. Kayla put herself through university, taking Naomie to lectures, where she’d sit colouring in. Later, her mother became a journalist and a scriptwriter for EastEnders. Today she works as a healer specialising in EFT (emotional freedom technique) to release childhood trauma, and helps her daughter overcome her acting nerves. When Harris was 11, her mother married a teacher, and Naomie has a teenage stepbrother and sister. They are close, and visit her on film sets.
    Over the past month we’ve seen Harris walk the red carpet in a series of knockout dresses, including a spectacular Vionnet gown, slit at the sides to reveal her sculpted body, to promote her latest film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, in which she plays Winnie Madikizela — ‘the role of a lifetime’ — opposite The Wire star and Oscar hopeful Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela. Since the death of Nelson Mandela last week the film has taken on even greater historical significance, with the actress at the centre of worldwide premieres that have turned into celebrations of the iconic leader’s life. Harris told CNN: ‘Long before we made this movie I was inspired by the leadership, grace and compassion of Nelson Mandela… I am very proud to be part of our tribute to this extraordinary man.’
    Soon she’ll be shooting Bond 24, with Sam Mendes at the helm again. She loves the fact that this is the biggest year of her career, and that both films are partly British. ‘I feel really lucky because I’ve done it on my terms. I’ve done films in America, but I’ve never lived there. London has always been my home. I’ve always wanted to stay here close to my family. And I’ve managed to do it by going back and forth for auditions.’
    It’s hard to believe Harris has been acting for 26 years, having become a child actor, aged nine, in BBC children’s shows Simon and the Witch and The Tomorrow People. She got the acting bug early and attended the Anna Scher Theatre School after normal school; by ten she was a regular on BBC children’s television. The money she earned went towards university — she won a place to study social and political sciences at Cambridge. It should have been a great time, but as a skinny Bible-reading teen, she found it hard to socialise. Expecting to sit up into the early hours with like-minded people talking about the meaning of life, she was horrified to encounter binge-drinking Etonians — ‘and there was me, a black girl from Finsbury Park’. She cried most days and went home every weekend.
    Today she’s more generous about her fellow students. London is far ahead in terms of race issues, in contrast to America, which can be hugely segregated, she suggests, but it’s class that is our stumbling block. ‘Because you can be wealthy and just go to wealthy schools, and only hang around with wealthy children. And likewise if you’re working class and go to comprehensive school, you never really meet anyone from those kinds of background. The Etonians I went to Cambridge with, it wasn’t their fault. We were just as ignorant of each other, so in a way we’re both to blame. But society is to blame for that as well, because we never got an opportunity to mix until then, and it was too much of a culture shock.’
    After Cambridge, she applied to the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Her first job after graduating was Danny Boyle’s futuristic thriller 28 Days Later in 2002, in which she played Selena, a machete-wielding survivor of a virus that has wiped out civilisation. The film’s casting director suggested her for the role of Clara in Channel 4’s adaptation of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. She’d been in the same year as Smith at Cambridge. ‘She was cool. I was nerdy with glasses.’
    There’s an old-fashioned innocence about Harris. She doesn’t smoke or drink and she never does naked on screen. ‘I’m not into the sex scenes. I don’t want to go into people’s bedrooms. I think it can be shown without all of that.’ But at 37, she’s grateful that there are more role models and female leads such as 49-year-old Sandra Bullock, currently starring in the chart-topping Gravity. ‘Our real movie stars are actually women past 40 now!’
    Naomie HarrisTop, £2,970, Christopher Kane at net-a-porter.comFor Bond, Harris went through nine months of fitness training and learned to stunt-drive and fire machine guns. But Skyfall ended with Eve Moneypenny becoming Bond’s secretary. Surely she’s not going to just be doing the filing in Bond 24? ‘I’ve heard rumours that I’m going to be out in the field,’ she teases, ‘but I haven’t seen a script. Knowing Barbara [Broccoli, the producer], she’s all for women’s lib, isn’t she? She’s extraordinary; she’s completely reinvented the brand, yet kept so true to the essence of what people love about Bond. So I’m sure I won’t be just behind a desk. Or even if I’m behind the desk, there’ll be some twist.’
    Harris says she owes her career to Danny Boyle. ‘He really took a risk by giving me the role of Selena in 28 Days Later. That changed everything for me. And ten years later he did it again with Frankenstein at the National Theatre, when he gave me the role of Elizabeth. And that is the reason why I went on to getBond because Sam [Mendes] came to see the play.’ She loves Boyle’s creative fire. ‘He constantly seems to scare and challenge himself — just look at the Olympics.’
    Harris likes a challenge, too. She was terrified when she accepted the role of Winnie in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. ‘She is a living icon. For some people she’s the devil, for others she’s a complete saint.’ But she succeeds brilliantly in charting Winnie’s transition from the age of 21 to 58, and from passionate young woman to something far darker, without turning her into Lady Macbeth.
    When Mandela was sentenced to life in prison, aged 46, Winnie was only 28. Her home was raided daily, she was arrested, and she endured solitary confinement for 18 months. ‘Mandela always says it was worse for Winnie than it was for him. While he was incarcerated the eyes of the world were on him and he did have his comrades with him. Winnie was alone, raising two children with no money.’
    In preparation for the role, Harris even got to meet Winnie. ‘Idris managed to set up a meeting for us with her and her daughters. I said to her: “How do you want to be represented?” And she said, “You’ve done your research. You’ve been given this role because you can play it, so I trust you to portray me as you see fit. The most important thing is you play me truthfully.” And that was really liberating.’ At the Johannesburg premiere, Winnie gave the performance her blessing. ‘It’s the greatest accolade,’ she says.
    Back home in London, Harris is catching up on normal life. Close friends include Newton and David Oyelowo and Ruth Wilson, her co-stars from the BBC’s adaptation of Andrea Levy’s Small Island. ‘I switched on the TV and saw Ruth is directing a play. What’s going on?’ she laughs.
    Would Harris like to do more theatre? ‘No!’ she squeaks. ‘In front of the camera is definitely where I’m most comfortable. I love the fact that in film I get to mess up and then I can do it 20 different ways… With theatre, some nights you hit it and other nights you can’t get in the zone at all. And I feel so sad because the audience didn’t see me at my best.’
    This year she’s hosting her first ever family Christmas. ‘It’s going to be terrifying because my mum and my stepdad are amazing cooks, and they normally do a five-course meal. They really go for it. Our family love Christmas.’ She will have to rustle up a very Jamaican menu. ‘We have weird stuff like ackee and saltfish as starters, then mackerel salad as one of the courses. We don’t like turkey but we have chicken and then beef and a pork course, followed by dessert. So it’s mammoth. My mum actually soaks all the Jamaican fruits in rum a year before.’
    A teetotaller, Harris avoids the rum cake. ‘People are always urging me to give it a try but I’m 37, I’ve got this far without drinking, so I think I’m OK. I’m playful so when other people get drunk, it’s almost like I get drunk on their high. I love a dance. But,’ she boasts, ‘I don’t have the hangovers and throwing up afterwards.’ ES
    Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is in cinemas from 3 January
    Photographs by Kate Davis-Maclead
    Styled by Orsolya Szabo
    Hair by Sharon Miller using Paul Mitchell.
    Make-up by Kenneth Soh at Frank using Givenchy Le Rouge.
    Fashion assistant: Jenny Kennedy.
    Shot on location at The Soho Hotel, W1 (