Naomie Harris on Winnie Mandela

'She is the most complex women I have ever played... it meant inhabiting places I try never to go'

She has battled swashbuckling sailors in Pirates of the Caribbean and taken on Bond in Skyfall, but has admitted the most challenging role of her career to date was playing 'Mother Africa' Winnie Mandela. In an interview with Red Magazine 37-year-old Naomie Harris says she had no idea what signing up to play Nelson Mandela's famous wife meant, until she started her research.

Naomie stars alongside Idris Elba in the tribute film to Nelson Mandela's legacy, 'A Long Walk To Freedom', and reveals the role was her most emotionally exhausting yet.  Naomie said she had to dig deep to find the adequate emotions to play the peace leaders wife: 'It meant inhabiting places I try never to go, like revenge, hatred and rage. I don’t hate anyone, and I’m really not a vengeful person, but I found it really difficult to switch off. Even after I stopped filming, it took me a while to shake her.'

The pretty actress said the role of Mandela's wife was her most challenging yet, as Winnie, now 77, is a controversial character: ‘She is the most complex woman I have ever played. To many, she is a saint, she’s Mother Africa, you know? To others, she is completely vilified. Naomie added: The pressure of all those expectations, especially filming in South Africa, was a lot. I definitely understand why she became the woman she did. In the same situation, I don’t know how I would react.'

Naomie also opened up about what it was like to act alongside Golden Globe winning actor Idris Elba, saying they both had an instantaneous bond as they are 'both Virgos.' 'The first thing Idris said to me was, "Woah, what have we done? It’s terrifying, isn’t it?" It really put me at ease. We held each other’s hands through the whole process.' The interview is available to read in full in the February issue of Red Magazine and in the digital edition, out now.