Entertainment News

  • 7 December 2013, 10:45

Mandela Premiere Audience Shocked By Death

The audience at the London premiere of the biopic of Nelson Mandela's were left stunned after being told of the former president's death as the end credits rolled.

Mr Mandela's daughter Zindzi, who had flown in especially to attend the premiere in Leicester Square, was told the sad news earlier in the screening, but asked that Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom be allowed to finish.

It was reported that there were screams from those sat around Zindzi when she was informed.

She then left the cinema before the film's producer Anant Singh took to the stage at the end of the film to make the announcement that shocked the audience.

Witnesses said some burst into tears while others sat in stunned silence.

Jazelle Anderson, 22, who was in the cinema said when the film finished and the news was broken to them, "Everyone was completely shocked - completely shocked".

Damian McCarthy, 45, said: "I've never felt an atmosphere like that. It was unbelievable. It went from being quite a high-spirited occasion to absolute silence - stunned silence.

"It's one of those moments where people say 'Do you remember where you were?'. It's definitely put a bit of a bizarre twist on the premiere."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were in the audience, led the tributes to the anti-apartheid hero.

As he left with Kate, Prince William said: "I just wanted to say it's extremely sad and tragic news.

"We were just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. It's very sad."

Idris Elba, who plays Mandela, took to the stage with producer Harvey Weinstein to hold a moment's silence to honour the great man.

Elba, who has been tipped for an Oscar for his portrayal of the leader, said in a statement afterwards: "What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers and championed human rights before the eyes of the world.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

British actress Naomie Harris, who plays Mandela's wife Winnie, was said to be close to tears.

She released a statement on her Facebook page, saying: "I am deeply saddened by the loss of one of the greatest inspirational leaders of our time.

"Today South Africa lost its spiritual father. Too often violence and oppression lead to further violence and retribution. He taught us to fight back with peace.

"Long before we made this movie, I was inspired, as so many have been, by the leadership, grace and compassion of Nelson Mandela.

"While no single film can replicate a person's life, I am very proud to be part of our tribute to this extraordinary man. His accomplishments and approach to peace are lessons that will live on for generations."

An aftershow party for the cast was cancelled and all the cast members who had attended left the theatre without commenting.

It is understood that the film started about 90 minutes after Nelson Mandela died, but it took until 9.47pm UK time before Jacob Zuma announced the news of his death in South Africa, well into the film.

Another of his daughters Zenani had attended the start of the premiere, but did not sit down to watch the film.

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