With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Born in June 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, the young Freeman attended Los Angeles Community College before serving several years in the US Air Force as a mechanic between 1955 and 1959. His first dramatic arts exposure was on the stage including appearing in an all-African American production of the exuberant musical Hello, Dolly!.
Throughout the 1970s, he continued his work on stage, winning Drama Desk and Clarence Derwent Awards and receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance in The Mighty Gents in 1978. In 1980, he won two Obie Awards, for his portrayal of Shakespearean anti-hero Coriolanus at the New York Shakespeare Festival and for his work in Mother Courage and Her Children. Freeman won another Obie in 1984 for his performance as The Messenger in the acclaimed Brooklyn Academy of Music production of Lee Breuer's The Gospel at Colonus and, in 1985, won the Drama-Logue Award for the same role. In 1987, Freeman created the role of Hoke Coleburn in Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Driving Miss Daisy, which brought him his fourth Obie Award. In 1990, Freeman starred as Petruchio in the New York Shakespeare Festival's The Taming of the Shrew, opposite Tracey Ullman. Returning to the Broadway stage in 2008, Freeman starred with Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher in Clifford Odets' drama The Country Girl, directed by Mike Nichols.
Freeman first appeared on TV screens as several characters including "Easy Reader", "Mel Mounds" and "Count Dracula" on the Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) show "The Electric Company" (1971). He then moved into feature film with another children's adventure, Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow! (1971). Next, there was a small role in the thriller Blade (1973); then he played Casca in Julius Caesar (1979) (V) and the title role in Coriolanus (1979) (V). Regular work was coming in for the talented Freeman and he appeared in the prison dramas Attica (1980) (TV) and Brubaker (1980), Eyewitness (1981), and portrayed the final 24 hours of slain Malcolm X in Death of a Prophet (1981) (TV). For most of the 1980s, Freeman continued to contribute decent enough performances in films that fluctuated in their quality. However, he really stood out, scoring an Oscar nomination as a merciless hoodlum in Street Smart (1987) and, then, he dazzled audiences and pulled a second Oscar nomination in the film version of Driving Miss Daisy (1989) opposite Jessica Tandy. The same year, Freeman teamed up with youthful Matthew Broderick and fiery Denzel Washington in the epic Civil War drama Glory (1989) about freed slaves being recruited to form the first all-African American fighting brigade.
His star continued to rise, and the 1990s kicked off strongly with roles in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), and The Power of One (1992). Freeman's next role was as gunman Ned Logan, wooed out of retirement by friend William Munny to avenge several prostitutes in the wild west town of Big Whiskey in Clint Eastwood's de-mythologized western Unforgiven (1992). The film was a critical and box-office smash and scored an acting Oscar for Gene Hackman, a directing Oscar for Eastwood, and the Oscar for best picture. In 1993, Freeman made his directorial debut on Bopha! (1993) and soon after formed his production company, Revelations Entertainment. More strong scripts came in, and Freeman was back behind bars depicting a knowledgeable inmate (and obtaining his third Oscar nomination), befriending falsely accused banker Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption (1994). He was then back out hunting a religious serial killer in Se7en (1995), starred alongside Keanu Reeves in Chain Reaction (1996), and was pursuing another serial murderer in Kiss the Girls (1997).
Further praise followed for his role in the slave tale of Amistad (1997), he was a worried US President facing Armageddon from above in Deep Impact (1998), appeared in Neil LaBute's black comedy Nurse Betty (2000), and reprised his role as Alex Cross in Along Came a Spider (2001). Now highly popular, he was much in demand with cinema audiences, and he co-starred in the terrorist drama The Sum of All Fears (2002), was a military officer in the Stephen King-inspired Dreamcatcher (2003), gave divine guidance as God to Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty (2003), and played a minor role in the comedy The Big Bounce (2004).
2005 was a huge year for Freeman. First, he he teamed up with good friend Clint Eastwood to appear in the drama, Million Dollar Baby (2004). Freeman's on-screen performance is simply world-class as ex-prize fighter Eddie "Scrap Iron" Dupris, who works in a run-down boxing gym alongside grizzled trainer Frankie Dunn, as the two work together to hone the skills of never-say-die female boxer Hilary Swank. Freeman received his fourth Oscar nomination and, finally, impressed the Academy's judges enough to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance. He also narrated Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds (2005) and appeared in Batman Begins (2005) as Lucius Fox, a valuable ally of Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne/Batman for director Christopher Nolan. Freeman would reprise his role in the two sequels of the record-breaking, genre-redefining trilogy.
Roles in tentpoles and indies followed; highlights include his role as a crime boss in Lucky Number Slevin (2006), a second go-round as God in Evan Almighty (2007) with Steve Carell taking over for Jim Carrey, and a supporting role in Ben Affleck's directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone (2007). He co-starred with Jack Nicholson in the breakout hit The Bucket List (2007) in 2007, and followed that up with another box-office success, Wanted (2008), then segued into the second Batman film, The Dark Knight (2008).
In 2009, he reunited with Eastwood to star in the director's true-life drama Invictus (2009), on which Freeman also served as an executive producer. For his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in the film, Freeman garnered Oscar, Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award nominations, and won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor.
Recently, Freeman appeared in Red (2010/I), a surprise box-office hit; he narrated the Conan the Barbarian (2011) remake, starred in Rob Reiner's The Magic of Belle Isle (2012); and capped the Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Freeman has several films upcoming, including the thriller Now You See Me (2013), under the direction of Louis Leterrier, and the science fiction actioner Oblivion (2013/I), in which he stars with Tom Cruise.
|Myrna Colley-Lee||(16 June 1984 - 15 September 2010) (divorced)|
|Jeanette Adair Bradshaw||(22 October 1967 - 18 November 1979) (divorced) 2 children|
Frequently plays characters with calm demeanor
[Narration] Often provides narration for his films, as either himself or the character he is playing.
Often plays authorative leaders that seem highly trustworthy (even when they are not)
Deep authoratitve voice
Rich yet mellow voice
Ranked #31 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Village Voice Obie for Coriolanus (1979) (V) and "Mother Courage". 
Village Voice Obie for "Great Performances: The Gospel at Colonus (#14.2)" (1985). 
Village Voice Obie for Driving Miss Daisy (1989). 
Father of Alfonso Freeman from his relationship with Loletha Adkins and Saifoulaye Freeman (born 1960) from another previous relationship.
Father of Morgana Freeman with Jeanette Adair Bradshaw. He also adopted his first wife's daughter, Deena.
Received "Hollywood Outstanding Achievement in Acting" Award on 7 August 2000.
He was (along with director/actress Billie Allen, director/ playwright Garland Thompson, and journalist Clayton Riley') a founding member of The Frank Silvera Writers' Workshop, named after noted Black actor Frank Silvera.
Has reprised the same character three times. He played Dr. Alex Cross in Kiss the Girls (1997) and then reprised the role in Along Came a Spider (2001). He also played God in Bruce Almighty (2003) and then reprised that role in Evan Almighty (2007). Finally, he played Lucius Fox in both Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008).
Considered joining the Air Force to become a fighter pilot but opted to stay with acting instead.
Worked as a mechanic in the US Air Force.
Has recorded a new radio public service announcement about the national parks.
Recently earned a Private Pilot license.
Has his own production company, Revelation Entertainment.
Owns a boat which is berthed in the Caribbean. His busy schedule, however, only allows him to go sailing on it once a year.
During an interview with Charlie Rose regarding the 10th year anniversary of The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Freeman said he regarded that film, Glory (1989), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and Unforgiven (1992) as the highlights of his career.
He is often called the greatest living actor in film, a title he humbly waves off and says he is just "lucky."
Was nominated for Broadway's 1978 Tony Award as Best Actor (Feature Role - Play) for 'The Mighty Gents.'
Said in an issue of Life Magazine (February 2005) that he can be seen as an extra in The Pawnbroker (1964).
Arrived in Los Angeles in 1959 and his first job was as a clerk typist.
Speaks fluent French. He gave an introductory speech in French to the crowd of extras gathered in Montreal's Olympic Stadium to portray the Baltimore Super Bowl audience in The Sum of All Fears (2002).
In May 2005, he won the right to the Internet domain name www.morganfreeman.com from the company Mighty LLC, of Charlestown, Saint Kitts and Nevis in a UN panel.
Received a trademark on his name from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on September 19, 2006.
Most of the characters he has played aren't written specifically for an African-American actor.
Keeps his Oscar statuette inside a cabinet which resides in his office. The cabinet was built by a good friend of his in 1998 especially for the Oscar that his friend predicted he would win. It even came with a plaque that read: "No Parking. Reserved for Oscar."
Member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival 1994
He has played three men who teach someone to box in three separate films. First, he played "Geel Piet" in The Power of One (1992), he then played "Alex Cross" in Kiss the Girls (1997) where, at the beginning of the film, he was teaching a group of young boys how to box, and he also played "Eddie 'Scrap Iron' Dupree" in Million Dollar Baby (2004).
His performance as "Fast Black" in Street Smart (1987) is ranked #77 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
In January 2001, opened Madidi, a fine-dining restaurant in Clarksdale, MS, with local attorney and businessman, Bill Lucket. They also co-own Ground Zero Blues Club, a blues bar and grill that opened in May 2001.
Three films of his are on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time. They are: Driving Miss Daisy (1989) at #77, Glory (1989) at #31 and The Shawshank Redemption (1994) at #23.
Attended the 2004 and 2005 Dubai International Film Festival in the United Arab Emirates.
Is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Works closely with screenwriter Grant Boucher.
Has said that watching Gary Cooper's films in his youth inspired him to become an actor.
Broke his arm and shoulder when he flipped his car near his home of Charleston, Mississippi on August 3, 2008.
Though he was born in Memphis, he actually grew up in the Mississippi Delta region. He moved back to Mississippi to open a blues club and restaurant in 2001.
Split from his wife Myrna Colley-Lee. [August 2008]
Friends with Kenny Chesney.
Lives in Charleston, Mississippi and New York City, New York.
Was honored with the American Film Institute's 39th Lifetime Achievement Award on June 9, 2011.
Will receive the 2012 Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes award ceremony in January 2012 [November 9, 2011].
Favorite films include the original "King Kong" and "Moulin Rogue".
I gravitate towards gravitas.
I had a philosophic aversion to it. I didn't want to do the same thing twice. Then, I realized that my philosophical aversion was bullshit. I realized I liked Alex Cross. And the fact that he's black is totally incidental. That's a rare thing for a black actor to find. - on his hesitation to do Along Came a Spider (2001).
It was a wonderful experience. Steve Bing was the producer and was very generous. But the movie didn't turn out very well. The director ['George Armitage'] fell ill and we shut down production for a few weeks while he recuperated. And I think when he came back he just didn't pick up the ball and run with it the way he should have, and the movie suffered greatly for that. - on the failure of The Big Bounce (2004).
I've been living with myself all of my life, so I know all of me. So when I watch me, all I see is me. It's boring. - on why he dislikes watching his own films.
I'm not intimidated by lead roles. I'm better in them. I don't feel pressure - I feel released at times like that. That's what I'm born to do.
I was in Africa when I got the call for Unforgiven (1992). Clint called my agency and made an offer for a western. I was like, 'He called for me?' It was jaw-dropping.
It took a long time for word of mouth to kick in because no one could say it. It was 'The Shimshunk Reduction', 'The Hudsucker Redemption'; I mean people just couldn't say it, which really made me angry because I knew that at the time! The movie we made was called 'Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption'. Isn't that a great title? But they were like, 'That won't fit on the marquee.' So it took a year or two for people to say it. Some people still can't say it. - on the box-office failure of The Shawshank Redemption (1994).
If you don't show the actual violence and the audience provides their own violence, it's much more gruesome. This is a guy who spent a lot time planning and preparing, and what was he doing? He was punishing people for their sins. He had a moral agenda. A twisted moral agenda, but do you know how many people do? People in high places. - on the violence in Se7en (1995).
People thought it was a picture about slavery. But it wasn't about slavery at all. It was about American jurisprudence. The point of the film ultimately was that the President in not the king. But I think people were like, 'Jesus, not another movie about slavery!' We really do have a negative response to negative history. Which is a shame" - on the box-office failure of Amistad (1997).
'I knew that movie wasn't going to work. I don't think Brian De Palma had a clue. It struck me that he didn't read the book-or that he didn't like the book. It was the one time Tom Hanks was awfully miscast. Originally they hired Alan Arkin to play my role. I thought that was perfect casting. But then they thought they had to be politically correct and make the judge black. So they fired Alan Arkin and hired me. Not a great way to get a role. I was kind of a suck-a-- for not turning it down, but they weren't going to give it back to Alan anyway. I never did get around to seeing the movie. - On the failure of The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990).
"It's a tricky character, right on the edge of Uncle Remus. But, I knew how to play him right away. I knew when I read it. I just saw him -- the dignity in the character. The only time I ever worried about it was when I was doing the show Off-Broadway, and all these Southerners would come back wiping their eyes and talking about how nostalgic it made them feel. How their grandmother had a chauffeur just like that. I was like, 'God damn it! I made these people nostalgic for the good ol' days!' But, then, I had some black friends see it, and they said, 'Oh, my grandfather was exactly like that.' So that made me feel okay." - On the character of Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
That was a strange production. There were moments of extreme tension on the set. Between the producers and actors, between the director and actors, between everybody. Just this personality stuff between different groups. Very strange. Let's stop talking about that one. - on working on The Shawshank Redemption (1994).
[on Se7en (1995)] There's all this loss and angst and death and sense of helplessness in that movie-if I saw it in the theater, I probably wouldn't have liked it. I saw Fight Club (1999) and I didn't like it much. It's a great movie, well made, fabulous acting, but it just made me feel so bad. But David Fincher is an extraordinarily good director.
When I was doing press for Deep Impact (1998), reporters would always ask me how it felt to play the first black president, and I'd tell them, 'I'm not playing the first black president. I'm playing a president who happens to be black.' Or they'd ask me what sort of research I did for the role. Research? What kind of research do you need to play the president? He's a guy. Besides, we all know what presidents are like standing up there in a press conference. Hell, you don't have to do any research to play a president.
"I saw Neil LaBute's first movie, In the Company of Men (1997), and I thought it sucked deeply. I mean, talk about a couple of scuzzy guys. Man, they were turds. But I was intrigued by the mind that would think this up and film it. Then, I saw LaBute's second movie, Your Friends & Neighbors (1998). Not any better, but still intriguing. So then I got the script for Nurse Betty (2000), and I loved it and I went and met him. And it turns out he's married, has these lovely kids. He's just this big bear of a man. Cuddly, even. It didn't take any persuading to convince me to do the film".
When I got nominated for the Oscar [for Street Smart (1987)], it put rocket boosters in my career. Since childhood, all I wanted to do was make movies. I love the stage, but I wanted to be a movie actor.
Is there a movie I think I should have won the Oscar for? Yeah. All of them.
"I don't know what my favorite film of mine is...But I think the most important film I was in was Glory (1989)".
"It was my idea to just do "The Electric Company" (1971) for a couple of years and go on. But, you get trapped by that money thing. It's golden handcuffs. It gets a lot of people, including soap opera actors and commercial actors. Then, they don't want to see you in serious work. That was going to be me, having people come up to me saying 'My kids love you!'. I was there three years too long".
I find it difficult to watch myself...I find it boring.
I was talking to Bob Hoskins when we were making Unleashed together. We were talking about the joy of doing bad guys. And he confirmed exactly what I was thinking. With bad guys you get to let it all out. All those dark places in your psyche? You can let 'em go. When you play good guys, it's kind of boring. It's one note.
Once you've gotten the job, there's nothing to it. If you're an actor, you're an actor. Doing it is not the hard part. The hard part is getting to do it.
[Accepting his UCLA Tracy award]: "To be included among this group of highly accomplished actors is just magical."
I'm very worried about what's going on in the world at the moment because we have this Napoleonic president; by Napoleonic I mean he's a man who just seems to need to search himself. It doesn't make sense. I don't have any love lost on Saddam Hussein. If he needs to be removed from office, fine. You have to find the right way to do it, but going to war, nah, with the people. To do what. What is the real reason? Because he's harboring weapons of mass destruction? So it is with North Korea. Why are we acting to acquiesce to this? We do not need the Iraqi oil. We have Kuwait oil. It's the same pool. That's why Kuwait's there. That's why Kuwait was set up. You think that country could exist there without somebody backing it? We're talking about a piece of Iraq. So, we keep this. That's my noise. I am terribly upset about the whole thing.
You know, I was hanging out with Sidney Poitier and we were trying to decide if he or I were the better actor. We decided it was me as I convinced the world I could sing. (Freeman debuted on Broadway in 1968 in "Hello, Dolly!")
Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man. And I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. - when asked how to get rid of racism in an interview with Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes" (1968).
Ridiculous... I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history. - when asked what he thinks of Black History Month on "60 Minutes" (1968).
The American Indians have this saying. 'Look at the day, look at the sunlight, the grass and the trees! It's a good day to die!'
You couldn't possibly try to entertain all of the people who seem to be offering you entertainment. Because most of them want some compensation for it.
Upon waking up face down in a door way and not knowing how he got there: "I recognised that it had become a problem, so I just quit. I do have self-control. Once I realise that I've got to change something I just do it."
If you wake up and the snow is knee-deep outside, you are not filled with rage. It's just something that you've got to cope with. If you're living in a situation it's the only situation that you know, and you've got to deal with it.
I don't have to work. I could stop and never have to worry about paying the rent. I'm working for the joy of doing it.
Sometimes you want to upset an audience so you can engage them. I've done so-called Hollywood films, and I know that it's all about wanting the audience to feel upbeat, give them a happy ending. But they also like complete stories. If your story's complete it doesn't have to have a happy ending.
They say there's no fool like an old fool. But blessings be upon my wife because I think without her, I'd be somebody's fool by now.
If you live a life of make-believe, your life isn't worth anything until you do something that does challenge your reality. And to me, sailing the open ocean is a real challenge, because it's life or death.
Upon getting work as an off-Broadway actor in 1967: I made $70 a week as an actor and I'd been making $60 in LA. Making more than that as an actor was just unbelievable to me. I never went back to typing but had some real lean times in-between. But I didn't have to go to work for anybody else. I didn't have to wash dishes, I didn't have to wait tables, I didn't have to drive a cab or wash cars. I deliberately left myself nothing to fall back on. If you've got a cushion, where you land, you stay. You can't climb a mountain with a net. If you've got the net, you'll let go.
I work about half the year. I'm just a guy who enjoys his work and enjoys working with people who enjoy their work. When that happens you get a bonding situation and if it come out with a good product, then that ties you even closer together. It's almost like a great love affair.
I've never been a mechanic. Throughout my life, what I have been is an actor, a pretender. I do have the wife and the family and the stuff like that but on the other hand, I'm - knock on wood - outstandingly healthy.
I think we all have a private bucket list. It may not be written down, but I'm constantly checking them off. I just checked off Jack Nicholson. Every day was a holiday because I've been praying at the temple of Jack ever since Five Easy Pieces (1970). I had a chance to ride with him on the Warner Brothers plane with Clint [Eastwood]. I got to jawing what a fan I was, and as actors will do, he expressed how he liked my work. Then we started talking about how we could make a sequel to [the 1973 Nicholson film] The Last Detail (1973). But that didn't pan out.
My aim in life, when I graduated from high school, was to get out of Mississippi. I started coming back [to Mississippi] in about 1979, because my parents moved back, which I couldn't understand. What in the world would make you come back here? It took me about 20 years to figure that out.
I'm not a campaigner or a crusader for ending racism, or anything for that matter. I believe you should live your life according to your own tenets. If there are people you don't like, avoid them. But not liking people based on generalities is stupid.
No, but a lot of roles I refuse because it's not me. -- on if he ever feels he's been miscast.
Isn't there a big, 800-pound gorilla missing here? Money, money, money. You work all your life so you don't have to wash dishes or sweep floors or pump gas, and still pay the rent. That's very germane to what you call a career.
I don't know about anyone else, but my kids didn't have me. I was busy trying to be somebody. Now I have all these debts to pay. -- on the personal toll being an actor can take on a person.
I don't think that anything where you start off with something is an art form. If you start off with a blank page or a blank canvas or a blank slab or a blank stone, you're going to create something. If someone brings it to you and says, "Can you enlarge upon it?"
I'm not good at anything else. Certainly not golf. -- on why he is an actor.
The fact that the people who are making the decisions about moviemaking are not moviemakers is a big problem.
I don't do accents. But I was going to have to do some sort of accent and do my best to sound like Mandela. I really fretted over that because he's an iconic figure. If you screw it up you've screwed it up. But once we got into production, it all fell into place. -- on the toughest aspect of preparing for "Invictus"
I don't like tension on a set -- at all, of any kind.
Glory does what I think movies are best at, and that is giving you a lesson in history. Glory is a story that nobody knew. It's American history that was completely ignored, and there is an awful lot of that. It is because the people who tell the story tell their own story. So if you ever ask, any time down the line, that's always the film I'll be most proud of.
On The Shawshank Redemption (1994): That is the film that most people will mention. It's not the only one, but it's the most common. I think more people have seen Shawshank than have seen anything else bar Casablanca (1942). Me, I just take the compliment.
I never think about awards or anything like that when I do a job. I was first named a best actor when I was 12 years old and it doesn't really mean anything when you get down to it, because there is no best. I don't get all that involved. My chest puffs up as much as I can puff it up but I am not trying to be better than the person I am acting with. I am trying to be at least as good. That's how it works.
[on Michael Wincott] Michael is a sweetheart, he has an enormous power. He is one of those people who's totally dedicated to what he's doing. I certainly get enjoyment out of working with him. He's great to rehearse with, he's always got ideas and this incredible sense of humor and this kind of outlandish take on things.
I never wanted to be a movie star. I never wanted to be a personality. Then all you do is turn yourself into what the audience wants and play it over and over. That's what movie stars do.
|Kiss the Girls (1997)||$5,000,000|
(June 2004) Has purchased the film rights to Orange Crushed, a mystery novel by an African-American writer, Pamela Thomas-Graham. (Thomas-Graham is also the CEO of cable news channel CNBC.) Orange Crushed features an African-American heroine, Professor Nikki Chase.
(February 2005) Lives in Charleston, Mississippi, USA.
(March 2009) Currently in Cape Town, South Africa filming Invictus (2009).
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