By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
In reading the discussion about Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela, it’s interesting to note that South African actors have been protesting the casting of Jennifer Hudson in the title role of a biopic on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
“This decision must be reversed. It must be stopped now,” Oupa Lebogo, the union’s secretary-general, told The [UK] Times. The story also quoted a friend of Madikizela-Mandela’s, Udo Froese, as saying,: “There’s a lot of good local talent, why not use them? Winnie herself is not involved in this, and in no way has given any sort of green light.”
At a Dec. 5 press conference, actor John Kani and the Creative Workers Union of South Africa called for tighter regulations on foreign projects, and said the issue wasn’t Hudson personally, but a bigger problem:
“Every time there is a movie that tells a South African story, it is done by someone who must be taught the right way of pronouncing Sawubona. Enough it enough.”
He said if local actors were to be included in such films, they had to be given serious roles to play.
ANC Women’s League deputy president Nosipho Dorothy Ntwanambi said as a struggle veteran, she knew and understood why South African stories had to be portrayed by people who lived and knew them.
“One can’t read a book about our history and claim to know our way of living,” she said.
The Associated Press ran a story Monday quoting two more union officials upset with Hudson’s casting.
“It can’t happen that we want to develop our own Hollywood and yet bring in imports,” the union’s president Mabutho Sithole said in The Citizen newspaper.
“This decision must be reversed, it must be stopped now,” union secretary general Oupa Lebogo said in The Times. “If the matter doesn’t come up for discussion, we will push for a moratorium to be placed on the film.”
The Times also noted that both the film’s source material (the book Winnie Mandela: My Life) and director (Darrell J. Roodt) are local.
Another South African publication, the Daily Maverick, is concerned less about Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela in Invictus – which, the Huffington Post says, features an almost completely South African cast – than , but about how it holds up as a rugby film:
Can Graham Lindemann really demonstrate the awesomeness of Kobus’s arrival at a ruck? Can Rolf Fitschen throw a lineout ball as straight as Naka?
The answer, of course, is no. And because the answer is no, there’s likely to be much sniggering when the film gets released here this month. In fact, the sniggering has been gathering momentum for a while already – honestly, what was your first reaction when you heard that Matt Damon was cast as Francois Pienaar? Did you tell your mates that the guy was born for the role?