Terrence Howard and Jennifer Hudson have been tapped to star in a biopic surrounding the controversial life of Winnie Mandela.
The film, ‘Winnie’, will be directed by Darrell J. Roodt , from a script based on the Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob biography Winnie Mandela: A Life, according to Variety magazine.
“I was compelled and moved when I read the script,” Hudson said in the Variety interview. “Winnie Mandela is a complex and extraordinary woman and I’m honored to be the actress asked to portray her. This is a powerful part of history that should be told.”
“Winnie” is a film that is rumored to likely detail the fraud, kidnapping and murder controversies that have surrounded the anti-apartheid leader’s former wife.
Although Winnie is most notably known as the “Mother of the Nation”, many in South Africa despise her for her “take no prisoners” mentality towards suspected informers in the townships.
In addition, many also question her ethics after she was convicted of kidnapping Stompie Moeketsi, 14, who was later found beaten to death in Soweto. Although the ruling was declared under the law of apartheid; long after the introduction of democracy, she was convicted of more than 40 charges of fraud in 2003 – her prison sentence was replaced with a suspended term on appeal.
It’s because of her jaded past that it is reported that Winnie is threatening legal action against the biopic film makers.
According to the Johannesburg’s Star Newspaper, a letter from Mandela’s attorneys states the noted South African figure is “extremely concerned” to hear about the film and says she was never approached for consent.
“It is difficult to understand how a production bearing the name of an individual who has not been consulted at all,” the letter read, “could ever be appropriate or tell the full story of that individual’s life as media reports suggest this production is intended to.”
In response to the accusations, the films’ producers issued a statement saying:
“The position of the producers is that if a screenplay has to be approved by Ms. Madikizela-Mandela, then the film based on that screenplay could possibly be jeopardized as the world may question the credibility of the film.” They also specified that they were not legally obliged to have Mandela’s consent in order to move forward with the film.
As of press time, there was no word on whether further legal actions will be taken. “Winnie” is slated to begin filming on May 30.