mandela 2*A distinguished Idris Elba, sporting a tailored suit ensemble, crisp neck tie, and several gray whiskers in his neatly manicured beard, turned heads at the Johannesburg (South Africa) premiere of new biographical film, “Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom.”

The 41-year-old “Takers” star portrays anti-apartheid leader, and Nobel Piece Prize winner, Nelson Mandela–a role that’s been years in the making.

“This story is so much bigger than me, bigger than anyone of us,” said Elba, who made it just in time for the premiere having missed his earlier flight from London after suffering an asthmatic attack. Now we know the sacrifices Mandela made.”

At 95, Mandela’s frail body and failing health–the civil rights leader is under close medical watch–prevented him from partaking in the festivities. However, his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela , graced the red carpet with her presence, and offered poignant remarks about the docu-movie:

“We should remember where we come from and that this freedom was hard earned and that it was won at a very, very heavy price,” said Madikizela-Mandela, wearing traditional Xhosa dress with headwrap.

After spending 27 years behind bars for activism against apartheid forces, Mandela preached equality and forgiveness in the bitterly divided nation, winning him worldwide admiration as a peace icon. He was also elected first black South African president in 1994