Eastwood and Damon Find Human Factor

Joining Freeman in Mandela drama?

Eastwood and Damon Find Human Factor

by Helen O'Hara |
Published on

There's been a mini-spate of South African dramas recently - Catch A Fire, Goodbye Bafana and the not-so-strictly-apartheid-related Tsotsi. Now The Human Factor is joining the sub-genre, with Morgan Freeman lined up to play Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood in talks to join him.

The story is set soon after the fall of apartheid, after Mandela's release from prison and election to the Presidency. Specifically the story concerns the decision to hold the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, even though the country's team had been prevented from playing in international events since the 1980s, because of the apartheid system.

Freeman's set to play Mandela, in the most spot-on bit of casting ever (can you think of anyone else who can portray that sense of gravitas and calm? No, us neither), with Matt Damon in talks to play the captain of the Springboks (note to non-sporty types: a modicum of research from your dedicated team here suggests that that makes him the leader of the South African rugby team. "Rugby", apparently, is some sort of game - a bit like Scrabble, we think). And Clint Eastwood's in talks to direct, brought in by Freeman who of course worked with His Oscariness on Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.

The film's based on John Carlin's book "The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed The World" (Amazon says it's the "Game That Saved South Africa", but everyone else seems to go with Variety's more bombastic version) which isn't out yet in this country.

The film's due in 2009, strike permitting, and if Eastwood and Damon do indeed join Freeman, and the script by Anthony Don't Say A Word Peckham is up to scratch, this could have the 2010 Oscars sewn up. Getting ahead of ourselves? Perhaps - but would you bet against the potent combination of these actors and Mandela hero-worship in Hollywood? Nope, us neither.

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