Idris Elba had to axe plans to discuss his new biopic with Nelson Mandela because the ailing civil rights icon was too ill to meet him. The British actor plays the former South African leader in new movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which is based on his 1994 memoirs of the same name. Mandela, who will mark his 95th birthday on Thursday (18Jul13), is currently ill in hospital in South Africa after spending months battling a recurring lung infection, and Elba has now revealed his plans to meet the activist were scrapped because of his poor health. Elba tells Britain's The Sun, "It's a massive opportunity to be part of a true legend's life and, more importantly, for the film to re-educate people on this legend. I never met Mr. Mandela because he was very ill, so our interpretation of him was without his personal influence. But the script is such a good script and obviously it comes from his book, and the book speaks for itself. If I get judged on my performance or how I sound or look, I think people will have missed the point. "The point is... the book is about his life and it's his own words." The movie, which co-stars Naomie Harris as Mandela's ex-wife Winnie, is due for release in January (14).