Archbishop Desmond Tutu has played a significant role in bringing change to Apartheid South Africa. Now, his courage, determination and bravery is coming to the big screen as ‘The Forgiven’, a new Hollywood blockbuster based on Michael Ashton’s play The Archbishop and the Antichrist opens in theatres across the country on 5 October 2018.

The film is a fictionalised account of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s efforts as the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to confront the atrocities of apartheid in an attempt to heal and unite South Africa. The drama follows Archbishop Desmond Tutu, portrayed by Forest Whitaker, and his struggle – morally and intellectually – with brutal murderer and member of a former apartheid-era hit squad Piet Blomfeld, played by Eric Bana, over redemption and forgiveness. When Tutu receives a highly articulate letter pleading for clemency, written by the convicted murderer, he becomes intrigued enough to visit the prisoner in his cell; here the two men have a series of intense conversations about guilt and forgiveness.

As the premiere date for the film draws closer and closer the two actors have opened up about their roles in the film and why everyone should watch it when it releases next month. In a recent interview, Whitaker confessed that playing Tutu proved to be one of the biggest challenges of his career. “I knew his laugh, his sense of humour, how he felt, his passion, and his faith. But he has a graceful way in which he looks at the world. Trying to pull those things together, to capture the spirit of the man, was challenging.”

Meanwhile, Bana adds that “This is probably the most intimidating character I’ve ever played,” admits the Australian actor. “The key to the character, for me, was just throwing myself into South African history. There was so much that I needed to know, before I could stand any chance of understanding where Blomfeld’s warped sense of entitlement came from. It was just one of those roles where you have to really jump into the deep end, and trying to learn and understand a lot of the history was the first step.”

The Archbishop himself has given the project his blessing, saying: “This timely, compelling and intelligent film, movingly, and above all humanely, captures what it felt like to be working with those selfless members of the TRC who strove, often against the odds, to help bring both truth and reconciliation to the ordinary people of South Africa. The film is a tribute to the remarkable and healing power of forgiveness and the outstanding compassion and courage of those who offered love and forgiveness as an antidote to hate and inhumanity. This is not only a film about a certain time and place, it is a pean of hope to humanity at large.”

The Forgiven premieres on 5 October 2018.

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