Idris Elba: Actor Arrives At Mandela Premiere

British actor Idris Elba has made the premiere of a new movie about the life of Nelson Mandela the day after he had to go to hospital because of an asthma attack.

There had been fears that Mr Elba, who takes the lead role of the legendary South African leader, would not be able to make it because he was too ill.

He told Sky News the attack took him by surprise.

He said: "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."

Many of Mr Mandela's close family were on the red carpet in honour of the man who fought for the democratic rights of black South Africans.

He went on to become the country's first black president.

His daughter Zindzi told a news conference ahead of the film's launch how emotional she became when she watched Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

She watched it for the first time with her mother, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Mr Mandela's second wife.

"It was difficult to watch," she said. "At times I had to look away because it reminded me of the pain and loneliness of all those times when we had neither my father, nor my mother."

It is, however, a film which has been endorsed by the Mandela family and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The film's producer, South African Anant Singh, got personal approval from Mr Mandela himself, who is now critically ill in hospital.

Mr Mandela saw excerpts and stills from the film at his home in Qunu last year.

Mr Singh recounted how, upon seeing actor Idris Elba playing his older self, Mr Mandela asked him: "Is that me?"

Mr Elba himself missed the pre-premiere publicity the day before the launch after having an asthma attack as he was boarding the plane to South Africa.

But he was able to make the launch at the upmarket Rosebank cinema complex in Johannesburg.

The film had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September, so Sunday's event was its South African premiere.

The film may have a British director - Justin Chadwick - and two British actors in the leading roles (Naomie Harris is playing Winnie), but the film-makers insist it is a South African story told largely by South Africans.

The director did not want to use acting extras, but chose to film many of the scenes in situ in the townships.

With a budget of just $35m (£21.9m) it is a relatively low-cost film, especially since they had to build many of the locations - such as the Robben Island jail where Mr Mandela spent decades.