The Oscar nominee didn't hesitate to play the iconic South African leader in Madiba but confesses he has never been so freaked out by a role.

"I was completely honoured to be asked, and then 15 minutes later panic set in," the veteran says. "I was like, ‘What are you doing?'”

Once Fishburne put aside his fears and took on the role, he found working on the project fulfilling: "Our storytelling is really about the man, more so than the myth," he explains. "We’ve tried to reveal how the man became the myth. It was a life-changing experience.”

For the 55-year-old, getting to develop Mandela for a lengthy small screen project was a privilege.

"The fact that we have the six hours to work with gives us a much larger canvas,” he said. “We can introduce people to the audience who were instrumental not only in bringing apartheid down but also people who very influential in Nelson Mandela’s life - people who helped to guide him, shape him, counsel him, oppose him, challenge him.”

The series will debut on U.S. network BET later this month (Feb17).