Actor Idris Elba appeared jovial and eager to great the crowd in Johannesburg at the premiere of the Nelson Mandela biopic “Long Walk to Freedom.”
Elba, who plays former South African President Nelson Mandela in the biopic, nearly didn’t make it to the red carpet for the opening of the film. Before boarding the plane for Johannesburg, he was rushed to the hospital in London after suffering an asthma attack.
Elba reportedly made it just in time to greet Mandela’s wife Graca Machel who stated, “Let me hug my husband”.
The British actor told U.K.’s Sky News of the attack, “I’ve battled asthma most of my life and it just overwhelmingly took me down on Friday while I was sitting on a plane. It was a very scary moment for me. A doctor on the plane helped me through it. Thankfully I am here.”
Mandela’s second wife Winnie Mandela, who fought tirelessly for his freedom and continued the fight for equality for Black South Africans, also attended the premiere. She told the crowd: “We should remember where we come from and that this freedom was hard earned. ”
The 150 minute biopic was shown simultaneously for the first time on three screens in Johannesburg in front of an invited audience including three generations of the Mandela family and one of his former cell-mates.
“Long Walk to Freedom” will hit U.S. theaters on Nov. 29.