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Hollywood Mourns Mandela: Morgan Freeman, Sam Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger Pay Respects

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Nelson Mandela (Getty Images)

Nelson Mandela's death has shaken the world. An icon whose message of peace and equality was equally embraced in politics and pop culture, the South African lion was instantly memorialized Thursday by those who knew him and those who admired him.

And that includes stars ranging from Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bono, and Arnold Schwarzenegger to Kelly Osbourne, Justin Timberlake, and Rihanna.

[Related: Nelson Mandela's Celebrity Friends]

Freeman, who played Mandela in the 2009 film "Invictus," issued a touching statement. "Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century," it read. "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. As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we've come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us."

Elba, the actor who played the leader in this year's "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," echoed the sentiment. "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," he said. "My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

[Related: Nelson Mandela's Legacy Includes a Lifetime of Musical Tributes]

U2 frontman and humanitarian Bono penned a song, "Ordinary Love," for "Walk to Freedom," paid tribute in an essay for Time. "Mandela would be remembered as a remarkable man just for what happened — and didn't happen — in South Africa's transition," read part. "But more than anyone, it was he who rebooted the idea of Africa from a continent in chaos to a much more romantic view, one in keeping with the majesty of the landscape and the nobility of even its poorer inhabitants. He was also a hardheaded realist, as his economic policy demonstrated. To him, principles and pragmatism were not foes; they went hand in hand. He was an idealist without naiveté, a compromiser without being compromised."

Music producer Quincy Jones had a longtime friendship with Mandela and worked with him on many humanitarian efforts over the years. "Today, as it did while he inhabited our planet, Nelson Mandela's spirit truly soars with the angels," he wrote as part of a lengthy statement. "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."

Others chimed in as well.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: "I will never forget the time I spent with President Mandela. Even before I met him, he was one of my heroes. But during the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in South Africa, I had the opportunity to stand with him in his former jail cell at Robben Island to light the torch, and his legend grew before my eyes. He told me about his struggles, his time in captivity, his persecution and oppression. Most people would have had nothing in their heart but revenge, but all President Mandela had was forgiveness. He is the definition of serving a cause greater than self. He singlehandedly reunited his nation, because he had a vision of the future that should inspire all of us. President Mandela's life is the closest thing we have to proof of God. I will never be able to thank him enough for his inspiration. Today, each of us should commit to do at least one small thing to improve the planet in his honor. Give back. Help someone. Change the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the people of South Africa."

Paul Simon: "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 reignite a worldwide effort for peace."


[Related: Nelson Mandela in the Movies]



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