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Nelson Mandela: Hollywood reacts to the loss of a legend

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
updated 10:07 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
Actress Charlize Theron stands with Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg following her Academy Awards success in 2004.
Actress Charlize Theron stands with Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg following her Academy Awards success in 2004.
  • Stars mourned Nelson Mandela via Twitter
  • Biopic producer Harvey Weinstein hailed his sense of humor
  • "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" premiered in London Thursday night

(CNN) -- Hollywood has long stood with Nelson Mandela in his fight against apartheid and his support of human rights. After the announcement of his death on Thursday, stars shared their condolences.

Harvey Weinstein, whose company is releasing the biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" in the United States this month, hailed Mandela in a statement.

"One of the privileges of making movies is having the opportunity to immortalize those who have made a profound impact on humanity," he said. "We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela's story and legacy. It's been an honor to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history's greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice. I have had the privilege of spending time with President Mandela and I can say his sense of humor was as great as his optimism. We are deeply saddened by his loss; our hearts go out to his family and the entire South African nation."

The film premiered in London as news of his death spread on Thursday night.

Actor Denzel Washington said he was "honored and humbled to call Nelson Mandela a friend of our entire family.

He will continue to live through all of us as a symbol of hope, faith and strength."

Actor Forest Whitaker expressed deep sadness "by the loss of one of the world's greatest souls."

"Nelson Mandela was a man who unified the world with his convictions and grace," Whitaker said. "He cultivated human dignity while moving a nation from the shackles of apartheid to reconciliation. He defended tirelessly and with passion human rights and, through love, nurtured humanity's hopes and dreams. Madiba was an elevated being who taught us that from forgiveness can spring new life, a new country, and a new world. I walk on the strength of his ideals and I am inspired by his courage and convictions to always believe in the light that exists in all of us."

Other statements received by CNN include one from singer Dionne Warwick.

"Having known him for many years and privileged to serve as one of his Ambassadors, it is with great respect that I send my heartfelt condolence to his family and South Africa!! ..........He amazingly lived what I was taught as a child and that being, We Human Beings have truly been put on this earth to be of service to one another and through this comes the Joy, Peace, and Harmony we ALL desire..............Rest in Peace Madiba"

Singer Alicia Keys said: "I'm deeply saddened by the profound loss of Nelson Mandela. He was more than just a man, but a king of peace and a beacon of hope for anyone suffering or oppressed. His courageous life touched the hearts of millions. He was perhaps our generation's greatest example of how you can rise above oppression and use your struggles to unite the world in peace. All of us stand on the shoulders of his profound accomplishments in raising awareness against HIV/AIDS and issues around anti-apartheid, equality, freedom and human rights. As I performed at the Mandela Day concert in honor of his 91st birthday, I was in awe of a man whose soul was filled with an effortless and rare love that only comes once in a lifetime. He was a gentle man with a beautiful smile, and deep eyes that always saw the best in humanity. His legacy lives on in all of us who live for a better tomorrow."

Even more celebrities shared their thoughts in 140 characters of less on Twitter:

Yoko Ono ‏@yokoono

Thank you Nelson Mandela for your highest standard of commitment to Peace in our World. We are so lucky to have been on this planet with you.

Missy Elliott ‏@MissyElliott

#RIPNelsonMandela we can't thank u enough for all the wisdom u have given to the world! A true Leader and loved by so many #rip

Jermaine Dupri ‏@jermainedupri

He will forever inspire #ripmandela mikekalombo

Katherine Heigl ‏@KatieHeigl

Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Nelson Mandela. An inspiration to all who value freedom, democracy and equality.

marlon wayans ‏@MarlonWayans

RIP NELSON MANDELA... It will take a world of people to grab the baton that you ran with to continue your tradition... May we all grab hold

Charlize Theron ‏@CharlizeAfrica

My thoughts and love go out to the Mandela family. Rest in Peace Madiba. You will be missed, but your impact on this world will live forever

Samuel L. Jackson ‏@SamuelLJackson

Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela. My sympathy to his family & his country.

Whoopi Goldberg ‏@WhoopiGoldberg

I want 2give the world a hug I was told Mandeba just passed. Nelson Mandela R.I.P. Time for a well earned sleep.Condolences to his family

Justin Timberlake ‏@jtimberlake

One of our GREATEST leaders... Thank you for BEING the true meaning of compassion. May you be at peace now. #RIPNelsonMandela

Beyonce Knowles @Beyonce

Thank you for all you have sacrificed to improve the lives of other human beings. Rest in peace.God Bless

Gladys Knight ‏@MsGladysKnight

Today we lost a hero -- a man that not only changed a country but affected the world. #RIPNelsonMandela

Lionel Richie ‏@LionelRichie

Rest in peace, Mr. Mandela. Your legacy and strength will live on forever. - LR

Goldie Hawn ‏@goldiehawn

A light has gone out in this world. RIP with the other Angels Dear Nelson.

Paris Hilton ‏@ParisHilton

Just landed & heard the sad new about Nelson Mandela. He was a true Hero & the world is a better place because of him. May he rest in peace.

Channing Tatum ‏@channingtatum

"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." - Nelson Mandela

Cindy Crawford ‏@CindyCrawford

Rest in Peace #Nelsonmendela a true hero.

Rita Wilson ‏@RitaWilson

Nelson Mandela, a man of strength, vision and love. He taught us by his example. May he rest in peace.

Carson Daly ‏@CarsonDaly

"From prisoner to president" thank you and RIP Nelson Mandela

tori amos ‏@therealtoriamos

RIP Nelson Mandela, A truly great and courageous man who will always to be an inspiration to the world, sleep well Madiba

Sarah Hyland ‏@Sarah_Hyland

Instead of mourning a loss, let's celebrate a life that changed the world

Mike Epps ‏@TheRealMikeEpps

To live to be 95 years old after all the pain mentally & physically he went through to make life easier for others=Hero #RIPNelsonMandela

ian somerhalder ‏@iansomerhalder

Im in tears.The world has lost one of its greatest shepherds of peace.Thank you Mr.Mandela for the love you radiated.

Hill Harper ‏@hillharper

#Madiba an inspiration, a man of character, wisdom, intelligence & purpose. Thank you for all you have done for others! #RIPNelsonMandela

Bethenny Frankel ‏@Bethenny

A truly inspirational person who will never be forgotten. #RIPNelsonMandela

Dominic Monaghan ‏@DomsWildThings

Never doubt that one person can make a difference in the world. #NelsonMandela

Elizabeth Berkley ‏@ElizBerkley

Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela #bless

Gina Gershon ‏@RealGinaGershon

"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid,but he who conquers that fear" RIP #NelsonMandela. One of the Greatest and Bravest.

Mike Tyson ‏@MikeTyson

I'm hearing about Nelson Mandela's death while on African soil in Oran, Algeria. Sending prayers to Mandela's family.

William Shatner ‏@WilliamShatner

I hope the great work started by Nelson Mandela continues to spread across the world. He will be remembered as an icon for equality.

LL Cool J ‏@llcoolj

Nelson Mandela. What a difference one person can make. #RestEternally

Busta Rhymes ‏@BustaRhymes



Wow. RIP Nelson Mandela. "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb."

Russell Simmons ‏@UncleRUSH

Nelson Mandela was an angel walking on this earth. You were one the greatest teachers this world has ever known. We love you and we miss you

Abigail Breslin ‏@yoabbaabba

Speechless... R.I.P. Nelson Mandela.

Ricky Martin ‏@ricky_martin

There is a party in heaven. Angels are celebrating. The one and only #NelsonMandela has arrived. RIP

Gabrielle Union ‏@itsgabrielleu

Rest in eternal peace, love and light #NelsonMandela

Michael Moore ‏@MMFlint

I was convinced Nelson Mandela would NEVER get out of prison. When he did, and became President, I decided right then anything was possible.

Olivia Wilde ‏@oliviawilde

Oh Mandela, rest in peaceful freedom.

Alyssa Milano ‏@Alyssa_Milano

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." ~Nelson Mandela

Albert Brooks ‏@AlbertBrooks

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela. Humanity at its absolute best.

Kevin Hart ‏@KevinHart4real

The definition of Strength is "Nelson Mandela" #RIP #GREATNESS #ICON

LeVar Burton ‏@levarburton

A great Soul has left us!!!! Nelson Mandela... Rest in Peace!

Olivia Munn ‏@oliviamunn

"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." RIPNelsonMandela

Melissa Joan Hart ‏@MelissaJoanHart

God Bless Nelson Mandela and his family! What a long and meaningful life! Rest in Eternal Peace! #rip

Sean Astin ‏@SeanAstin

God Bless #NelsonMandela

Marlee Matlin ‏@MarleeMatlin

So sad to read of the passing of the symbol of global resistance to racism. RIP Nelson Mandela

Kirk Franklin ‏@kirkfranklin

And just like trip to Johannesburg has now changed. MANDELA our Hero has passed....

Josh Groban ‏@joshgroban

We have lost one of humanity's greatest treasures. RIP Madiba. I will never forget the lessons learned from him or his vision that lives on.

Melanie C ‏@MelanieCmusic

I always feel strange acknowledging somebody's passing on twitter but I have to say I am honoured to have met the great Nelson Mandela #RIP

Stephen Fry ‏@stephenfry

Oh no. Just heard. Madiba dead. One of the greatest ever to share the planet with us. #mandela

Eliza Dushku ‏@elizadushku

Dearest Nelson Mandela. An inspiring life doesn't begin to describe, an icon, a hero, a saint to the fullest. #RIP marvelous, beautiful man.

Padma Lakshmi ‏@PadmaLakshmi

So sad to hear of Nelson Mandela's passing. What a life well lived! RIP

David Copperfield ‏@D_Copperfield

"It always seems impossible until it's done." - Nelson Mandela, rest in peace.

Clark Gregg ‏@clarkgregg

"...our presence automatically liberates others." Rest In Peace Nelson Mandela

Emile Hirsch ‏@EmileHirsch

Huge sadness for the loss of Nelson Mandela, a sterling example of human greatness and achievement.

Tatyana Ali ‏@TatyanaAli

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others" #Mandela

Questlove Jenkins ‏@questlove

Free Nelson Mandela! Nelson Mandela Is Free. #Respect

CNN's Shant Petrossian and Topher.Gauk-Roger contributed to this report