Naomie Harris on playing Winnie Mandela: I worried I'd bitten off more than I could chew

The actress best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in Skyfall talks Idris Elba, Barack Obama and going incognito on the tube

Naomie Harris on playing Winnie Mandela: I worried I'd bitten off more than I could chew
Written By
Susanna Lazarus

British actress Naomie Harris had plenty to contend with when she took on the role of Winnie Mandela. Not only did she have to master a South African accent, she had to play the political activist and former wife of the late president Nelson Mandela over a 40-year period. Winnie has since called her performance in Long Walk to Freedom the first time she had been truly captured on screen, but Harris admits to frequent bouts of self-doubt during filming on the biopic. 

"It's definitely the hardest thing I've ever played," Harris told, "and I definitely did think, 'Wow, have I bitten off more than I can chew?'"

But the 37-year-old was quick to heap praise on her co-star, Idris Elba (who plays Mandela) and the support he provided her with during filming. "Idris was amazing because he really helped me. He held my hand throughout the whole thing and he was there for me and supported me and when I got scared he'd say, 'It's OK, come on, we can do this.'"

After carving out a successful career with roles in 28 Days Later and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, last year saw the actress's profile step up a notch when she replaced Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny in Sam Mendes' Skyfall. "I feel like the luckiest person because I feel it's had a really important impact on my career which has been amazing but it hasn't affected my private life at all. I still get on and off the tube, nobody recognises me whatsoever, which is great."

Watch's full interview with Naomie Harris below... 

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is released in UK cinemas nationwide on 3 January 2014. 


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