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Along with receiving rave reviews for their performances of Nelson and Winnie Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Idris Elba and Naomie Harris shine as the cover stars of the January 6th issue of JET magazine.

The actors sat down for an in-depth interview with the publication and Idris admitted that he almost passed up on the opportunity.

“At first I wasn’t sure that the role was for me,” the London-bred star revealed. “I expected that they’d want an older actor, someone more distinguished, like Denzel Washington. Plus, I was really stuck on the way Mandela looks and the way I look.”

MUST READ: Idris Elba Spent The Night In Mandela’s Prison & More From ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’

For Naomie, the decision was instant. She accepted the role right away, however admitted that she only knew one fact about Winnie: “She was Nelson Mandela’s wife.”

“I worked with the production team on another small film and they offered me the role and I thought, ‘fantastic,’” the U.K actress shared. “I felt more like a researcher than an actor at one point…But then I interviewed her and that’s when everything really gelled for me.”

MUST READ: ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’ Breaks Box Office Records In South Africa

While on set, Naomie said Idris helped her through the difficult scenes.

“I felt like he was holding my hand through the whole thing,” she said. “It was a very difficult story to tell – dark and harrowing. We got to go on a journey together.”

“I didn’t feel like I was accomplished enough to play such a great man,” Idris admitted about his experience of portraying the former South African president. “It was a massive challenge. He could energize people with his charisma and aura. I tried to channel that. I want people to be inspired by his story.”

Check out the full article in the latest issue of JET, on newsstands December 15. Until then, check out exclusive interview with the two stars!

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