I Love Idris -- We've Been Friends for 20 Years, Says Rival Award Nominee Ejiofor; STAR OF SLAVERY EPIC PRAISES MANDELA ACTOR IN RUN-UP TO GOLDEN GLOBES SHOWDOWN

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Byline: Anna Dubuis and Louise Jury

ACTOR Chiwetel Ejiofor has spoken of his excitement at going head to head in awards season with old friend and rival Idris Elba.

Ejiofor, 36, who plays a free-born black man forced into slavery in 19thcentury America in the film 12 Years a Slave, is shortlisted for best actor at next month's Golden Globes against fellow Londoner Elba, who plays Nelson Mandela in the biopic Long Walk to Freedom.

Speaking at a special screening of 12 Years a Slave at Cineworld Haymarket last night, the former Dulwich College pupil, whose parents are Nigerian, said: "I love Idris and his work and I've known him for 20 years so I'm very excited for him and his film.

"I was talking to him not long ago and we were reflecting on the privilege of getting to play these extraordinary people and to find audiences for those portrayals is incredible."

The reception in the US has been "phenomenal", he said, casting aside fears that an American audience might reject a British director and British actor telling such an American story. Ejiofor added: "People come to the film with an open mind and they recognise that these are people who are telling the story from the perspective of a diaspora as well as specific nations all of which were involved in the slave trade, be that Britain or the West Indies, or Nigeria where my heritage is and where hundreds of thousands of slaves came from. …

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