With a director like Kevin Hooks behind the scenes, Mandela’s story is in capable hands. Hooks is the man behind various episodes of Prison Break and Lost. Like most of us, he seems to have a soft spot for “Tata Madiba”.
“I feel so close to the story and have such a passion for it. So that takes a bit of the pressure off of it in a way,” said Hooks. “From the moment I read the script, I felt that there were many things I connected with. Obviously the central character is one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen.”
Hooks and his team have spent the last week visiting places such as Liliesleaf Farm and the Apartheid Museum, gathering info and familiarising themselves with SA history. They have also been scouting for locations for the series, which will be filmed predominantly in and around Johannesburg.
Listen to Kevin Hooks talking about the project
Asked if a local actor would take on the role of Madiba, Hooks was careful not to make any promises.
“I think the first thing we need to do is cast the most qualified actor to play this role,” he said. “It is a huge responsibility for whoever that person is. In the best of all worlds, we’d like to cast a South African as that’s never been done before – I think that would truly bring something special and unique to this film. But at the end of the day, we have to find the person who embodies all of the qualities Madiba had and the things that we know and love about him. Where that person comes from, I don’t know. I hope we find that out soon.”
The screenplay is based on two published works: Mandela’s autobiographical Conversations with Myself and the authorised quotations book, Nelson Mandela By Himself. Hooks hoped the series would be more than just entertainment for South Africans.
“We are going to bring jobs and create a situation where people are going to work on something near and dear to them. It’s a very important aspect of what drives us to do what we do. It’s going to, hopefully, be something that South Africans can be proud of. No pressure!” he chuckles.