In a recent interview with BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans, Idris Elba opened up about the Dec. 5 royal premiere screening of his film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which coincided with the exact time that Mandela died.
"[It was] undoubtedly one of the strangest moments, and beautiful moments, of my career," Elba, 41, said. "It was just a great day, just a great evening. And then I guess, literally halfway through the film, Mandela had passed and there was sort of a buzz around the auditorium."
"Interestingly enough, the Duchess Kate, sort of turned to me and looked at me as she had her phone and I wondered what was wrong with her because she looked quite emotional, but the film's very emotional," he continued. "And my girlfriend looked at me and handed the phone and I looked down and there it was, Mandela had passed."
"It was just the most surreal moment," Elba said. "I looked back at Prince William and Kate and they were just in tears with me. It was just odd, very odd. There's a moment in the film where I play older Mandela and he says this one line and it is 'Just open the gate and let me free,' and I kid you not, that was the one line when we heard the news."
After the film's screening, Elba stood up in front of the audience to announce the sad news and pay his respects. "It only felt appropriate to say what had happened and honestly there was an audible gasp in the auditorium," he said. "Some people didn't know, they had their phones off. It was just very surreal. Bittersweet."
Mandela passed away earlier this month at the age of 95 after battling failing health.