Derek Luke played Santa Claus to an orphanage in a tiny South African town last year (05) when he delivered the first Christmas tree locals had ever seen. The tree gift was a thank you to South African human rights hero PATRICK CHAMUSSO, who now runs the orphanage. Luke plays Chamusso in biopic CATCH A FIRE. But the gift between friends almost never was after Chamusso initially made his reservations known about the young actor playing him. He says, "I was worried about the American accent and I was expecting Denzel Washington or Wesley Snipes." Ironically, it was Washington who discovered Luke working in the memorabilia store at Sony studios while he was casting another biopic, Antwone Fisher. Chamusso quickly warmed to the actor once production began after discovering he was "religious". He admits the tree gift became a huge spectacle - and townsfolk visited the orphanage just to see it. Luke landed the role after delivering a spellbinding audition for director Phillip Noyce and Chamusso's wife. Noyce recalls, "She was there rocking and crying for half an hour after he left (the room)."