The narrative: Based on the memoirs written by James Gregory, who was the censor officer and prison guard to Nelson Mandela, the film recounts the intense effect Mandela had on the white South African guard, and the relationship the pair developed during Mandela's 18-year stay in prison on Robben Island, before he moved to Pollsmoor Prison. Actor's push: Haysbert admitted the role was "daunting" and "intimidating." "Every night I went home, I would have a glass of wine and just cry," he said. "The sacrifices he made were profoundly sad to me." Director's pull: "I had to find an actor who has his size and [is of] the same age as Mandela," said the film's director Billie August of "The House of Spirits" and "Les Miserables." "The choice of Dennis Haysbert seemed obvious. I had spotted him in the series "24."
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
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