Celebrities pay tribute to Nelson Mandela

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Celebrity reactions Thursday to the death of Nelson Mandela:

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“What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.” — Idris Elba, who has the title role in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”

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“Mandela was one of the great leaders and teachers of the twentieth century. He conceived a model for mortal enemies to overcome their hatred and find a way through compassion to rebuild a nation based on truth, justice and the power of forgiveness. His passing should re-ignite a worldwide effort for peace.” — Paul Simon, whose acclaimed 1986 album “Graceland” was criticized by some for using South African musicians during a time when artists were boycotting the country. Some artists defended Simon and, with Mandela’s approval, he toured South Africa in the 1990s.

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Today, as it did while he inhabited our planet, Nelson Mandela’s spirit truly soars with the angels.  It was a spirit born of a generosity, love, compassion and hope for mankind that may never exist at such a heightened level in any single human being again. One of the most profound honors that I have had in my life was to be able to call ‘Madiba’ my friend and brother.” — Musician Quincy Jones.

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“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.” — Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Company released “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”

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“I am so happy that Nelson Mandela is at last truly free.  I will wave to him as he transforms into everything around me and on into the cosmos.  What a race to run, Life gave him. That he made it in so much beauty tells us who we are, and who we can be.” — Author Alice Walker.

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“Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honor, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve — a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind.” — Morgan Freeman, who starred as Mandela in “Invictus.”

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“Portraying Nelson Mandela, in the film ‘Goodbye Bafana’ was a defining moment in my life and my career. We as a society, have been blessed to live in a time that Nelson Mandela has lived, loved, and led. What he has done for his country, his countrymen, and everyone on this planet may not be achieved again. ever. I will always honor him as a saint.” — Actor Dennis Haysbert.

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“What a sad day that such a great man has passed on and moved on up a little higher. Most extraordinary was how he rose above his being imprisoned and exalted himself above apartheid and hatred to unite the country, an unbelievable example of humanitarianism and courage.” — Singer Aretha Franklin.

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“What I will remember most about Mr. Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.” — Boxing great Muhammad Ali.

In this May 17, 1996 file photo, South African President Nelson Mandela, left, and actor Sidney Poitier appear at a news conference in Cape Town. Poitier was in South Africa making a film in which he portrayed Mandela, alongside Michael Caine, who played former President F. W. de Klerk in "Mandela and de Klerk," about the country's transition from a White minority government to Black majority rule. (AP Photo/Sasa Kralj, File)

In this May 17, 1996 file photo, South African President Nelson Mandela, left, and actor Sidney Poitier appear at a news conference in Cape Town. Poitier was in South Africa making a film in which he portrayed Mandela, alongside Michael Caine, who played former President F. W. de Klerk in “Mandela and de Klerk,” about the country’s transition from a White minority government to Black majority rule. (AP Photo/Sasa Kralj, File)

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