EXCLUSIVE: Anant Singh’s long-gestating Nelson Mandela biopic heats up with Justin Chadwick in advanced talks to direct and Skyfall actress Naomie Harris in talks to star as Winnie Mandela opposite Idris Elba.

Director Justin Chadwick and actress Naomie Harris are in talks to reunite on Anant Singh’s long-gestating Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom, which has seen an injection of life in recent weeks.

Harris, soon to appear in Bond film Skyfall, is in talks to play Winnie Mandela opposite Idris Elba who is believed to be on board as Nelson Mandela.

Screen understands that crews have been booked and the project is likely to shoot in South Africa in May. The film will have an epic sweep, charting the whole of Mandela’s life, including scenes shot on notorious Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in captivity.

Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) directed Harris in Singh’s 2010 drama The First Grader about a Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter.

Singh’s Videovision Entertainment produces with David Thompson’s Origin Pictures - also behind The First Grader - on board as co-producers.

Gladiator, Shadowlands and Les Miserables writer William Nicholson has scripted.

The anticipated biopic, officially sanctioned by the iconic South African president, has had a number of UK directors attached during its long gestation, including Tom Hooper and Shekhar Kapur. Morgan Freeman was once attached to play Mandela.

However, Screen understands that the drama is “very much alive and kicking” and is in its most advanced production stage to date.

Singh, also CEO of LA-based Distant Horizons, has corralled financing for the large-scale passion project from state and private sources.

Actress Jennifer Hudson most recently portrayed Winnie Mandela on the big screen in Darrell Roodt’s 2011 biopic Winnie. Terrence Howard played Nelson Mandela.

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