(Reuters) - Actors Morgan Freeman and Idris Elba, who both portrayed Nelson Mandela in the movies, were among many figures from the entertainment world who paid tribute to the South African anti-apartheid hero who died on Thursday.
Freeman, who got to know the charismatic Mandela in the 1990s and portrayed him in the 2009 drama “Invictus,” said he was “a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind.”
The American actor added: “As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.”
In a recollection published by the Time magazine website, he said: “His only comment after we first screened the movie for him was a humble, ‘Now perhaps people will remember me.'”
Elba, a British actor and rapper, who starred in this year’s biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” said, “What an honor 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.”
U.S. filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, whose company has distribution rights for the film, said he had been “unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela’s story and legacy.” He said he had spent time with Mandela, adding, “I can say his sense of humor was as great as his optimism.”
Oscar-winning South African-born actress Charlize Theron tweeted: “My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever.”
Bono, the Irish rock star and anti-poverty activist who has campaigned in many African countries, said in a statement: ”It was as if he was born to teach the age a lesson in humility, in humor and above all else in patience.
“In the end, Nelson Mandela showed us how to love rather than hate, not because he had never surrendered to rage or violence, but because he learnt that love would do a better job.”
Veteran comedian and actor Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, said Mandela had “surrounded us with his graciousness, care and respect after we lost our son, Ennis,” who was murdered.
“Moreover, it was an honor to sit alongside him on the bed of his former prison cell; as he triumphantly spoke about his survival and the courage of his supporters,” the Cosbys said.
Soul singer Aretha Franklin said, “Most extraordinary was how he rose above his being imprisoned and exalted himself above apartheid and hatred to unite the country, an unbelievable example of humanitarianism and courage.”
World No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods said: “I got a chance to meet him with my father (Earl) back in ‘98. He invited us to his home, and it was one of the most inspiring times I’ve ever had in my life.”
Reporting by David Storey in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney