Naomie Harris: Mandela Cast Was 'Devastated' Over Icon's Death

Naomie Harris Naomie Harris

For Naomie Harris and the cast of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” news of the South African leader’s passing hit especially hard.

The Idris Elba-led cast learned of Madiba’s death during the London premiere of the biopic.

“It was very traumatic. I’ll never forget that night,” Naomie (who plays Nelson’s first wife, Winnie, in the movie) told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover on Wednesday’s Access Hollywood Live. “It was awful in fact, because there we were and it was the culmination of so much work — this film is 20 years in the making… we’re watching the movie and halfway through I get a tap [on the shoulder] and someone says, ‘Come outside’… so Idris and I and the producers go outside and then we’re told Mandela has died.”

READ: Stars React To The Death Of Nelson Mandela

The film’s producers initially contemplated stopping the screening in light of the sad news, but the late leader’s daughters – who were in attendance at the premiere – felt the movie should go on.

“We didn’t know what to do. We thought, should we stop it? But they said no, continue,” Naomie shared.

PHOTOS: Nelson Mandela: Memorable Moments With The Stars

Though they viewed the film in its entirety, the mood was understandably somber following the screening.

“We canceled the after party. It was really sad. Idris was in tears and everyone just felt really devastated,” she said. “It took the wind out of our sails… Even though we expected it and we knew he was ill, it was still a massive shock.”

-- Erin O’Sullivan

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