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Elba's hours of hair and make-up

Idris Elba portrays Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom: Photo © Elba's hours of hair and make-up Photo

Idris Elba has revealed that he had to get used to spending hours in hair and make-up for his role as Nelson Mandela.

The Luther star, who has received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for his portrayal of the late South African President in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, had to have an early start each day for his transformation, especially with the prosthetics.

"I had four hours every day sitting in the chair from 6am. It was tough," he admitted, adding: "I'm normally five minutes in the make-up chair."

Idris admitted he was "shocked" when he saw his older self.

"I was shocked. We did a really interesting journey designing the prosthetics," said the 41-year-old.

"I look nothing like Nelson Mandela so it was more Idris actually ageing than Idris turning into Mandela. What came of it was the older we played Mandela, the more I started to look like him, the more the voice, the characteristics and the walk started to come into play."

Idris said that playing Mandela over the span of 52 years was more challenging than nailing the leader's accent.

"The whole journey was harder than the accent. The accent is a continuous progression for me, but mapping out who he was as a young man and who he became as an old man was definitely a harder thing to do," he said.

"Justin Chadwick, the director, and I really paid attention to what that looks like, feels like, the age, the incremental moments in his life."

:: Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom opens in cinemas on January 3, 2014.

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