The experienced actor won his first Oscar award at the 2005 Academy Awards for "Best Supporting Actor" in the movie "Million Dollar Baby." Freeman has had an impressive and varied career on stage, television, and screen. It is a career that began in the mid-'60s, when Freeman appeared in an off-Broadway production of The Niggerlovers and with Pearl Bailey in an all-African-American Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! in 1968. He went on to have a successful career both on and off-Broadway, showcasing his talents in everything from musicals to contemporary drama to Shakespeare. Before studying acting, the Memphis-born Freeman attended Los Angeles Community College and served a five-year stint with the Air Force from 1955 to 1959. After getting his start on the stage, he worked in television, playing Easy Reader on the PBS children's educational series The Electric Company from 1971 through 1976. During that period, Freeman also made his movie debut in the lighthearted children's movie Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow? (1971). Save for his work on the PBS show, Freeman's television and feature film appearances through the '70s were sporadic, but in 1980, he earned critical acclaim for his work in the prison drama Brubaker. He gained additional recognition for his work on the small screen with a regular role on the daytime drama Days of Our Lives from 1982 to 1984.
Following Brubaker, Freeman's subsequent '80s film work was generally undistinguished until he played the dangerously emotional pimp in Street Smart (1987) and earned his first Oscar nomination. With the success of Street Smart, Freeman's film career duly took off and he appeared in a string of excellent films that began with the powerful Clean and Sober (1988) and continued with Driving Miss Daisy (1989), in which Freeman reprised his Obie-winning role of a dignified, patient Southern chauffeur and earned his second Oscar nomination for his efforts. In 1989, he also played a tough and cynical gravedigger who joins a newly formed regiment of black Union soldiers helmed by Matthew Broderick in Glory. The acclaim he won for that role was replicated with his portrayal of a high school principal in that same year's Lean on Me.
Freeman has been one of the few African-American actors to play roles not specifically written for African-Americans, as evidenced by his work in such films as Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), in which he played Robin's sidekick, and Clint Eastwood's revisionist Western Unforgiven (1992). In 1993, Freeman demonstrated his skills on the other side of the camera, making his directorial debut with Bopha!, the story of a South African cop alienated from his son by apartheid. The following year, the actor received a third Oscar nomination as an aged lifer in the prison drama The Shawshank Redemption. He went on to do steady work throughout the rest of the decade, turning in memorable performances in films like Seven (1995), in which he played a world-weary detective; Amistad (1997), which featured him as a former slave; Kiss the Girls (1997), a thriller in which he played a police detective; and Deep Impact, a 1998 blockbuster that cast Freeman as the President of the United States. Following an appearance opposite Renee Zellweger in director Neil LaBute's Nurse Betty, Freeman would return to the role of detective Alex Cross in the Kiss the Girls sequel Along Came a Spider (2001). Freeman continued to keep a high profile moving into the new millennium with roles in such thrillers as The Sum of All Fears (2002) and Stephen King's Dreamcatcher, and the popular actor would average at least two films per year through 2004 (with a staggering five films scheduled for release in 2003 alone).
Morgan was born on June 1, 1937, in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
Morgan Freeman: 'Million Dollar' Actor
Morgan Freeman reteams with Clint Eastwood for the acclaimed boxing drama
At a time when most men his age have retired (or are contemplating retirement), three-time Oscar nominee Morgan Freeman is working harder than ever.
The 67-year-old recently wrapped three films, including the 2005 summer release "Batman Begins." He is also working on a project in which he will portray Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela.
Asked why he works so much, Freeman's eyes widen. "Are you suggesting I should retire?" he responds with mock incredulity.
Freeman is joking but it takes a while to fully appreciate his wry sense of humor. And don't even think about discussing "gravitas," the noun most overused in describing the actor and the characters he plays.
"Maybe I just gravitate toward gravitas," he says with a shrug.
Like Gene Hackman, Michael Caine and other respected actors of his generation, Freeman works a lot simply because the work is available. For all their success these guys still fear what every actor fears: that the work will dry up and they will never get another gig. So they tend to accept nearly every role that comes their way. Sometimes they work for the paycheck. Sometimes they work because they want to work with a particular director or cast. And sometimes the material is particularly appealing.
In the case of "Million Dollar Baby" it was the latter two reasons for Freeman. He wanted to work with Clint Eastwood (they previously collaborated on the 1992 western "Unforgiven") and he thought the script was exceptional.
In the film he plays Scrap, an ex-boxer who manages an old-style gym owned by his longtime friend and former "cut man" Frankie (Eastwood). The two are like an old married couple. They bicker and argue and playfully tease each other about getting old but they also look out for one another, knowing each other's sad histories (which are revealed to the audience during the course of the film).
Enter Maggie (Hilary Swank), a thirtysomething aspiring boxer who wanders into the gym one day. Though several years past her prime Maggie is determined to become a professional boxer and cajoles Frankie to train her. Frankie initially is against it. "I don't train girls," he gruffly says. But Scrap sees potential in the desperate young woman and encourages his friend to take her on. "Million Dollar Baby" is more than a boxing movie. It's a story about redemption and love.
"It's a wondrous thing to work with Clint," says Freeman with a smile. "It's an easy working relationship."
Freeman had a certain reverence for Eastwood the first time they met more than a decade ago on the set of "Unforgiven." "I'd never seen him in person," Freeman says. "He said, 'welcome,' and the next thing was, 'we'll be working together tomorrow.' That was it."
Freeman expresses delight about the way Eastwood allows his actors freedom to explore their characters and his ability to run a stress-free set. That doesn't mean he doesn't have absolute control over every aspect of the film. He simply runs a tight ship.
"He comes prepared, very prepared," says Freeman in his distinctive low voice. "He works hard and he knows what he's doing. He's got great backup, people who work with him all the time, and everybody works with him for the same reason: he expects you to do your job."
Indeed, many on Eastwood's crew have worked with him for years, including cameraman Tom Stern, editor Joel Cox and 89-year-old Henry Bumstead, who has served as production designer on eight of Eastwood's films.
Freeman says it was also the material that attracted him to "Million Dollar Baby." He describes Scrap, who narrates the film, as the perceptive observer. Once an aspiring boxing champ, his career was crushed when he was blinded in one eye during a vicious, punishing bout. Frankie was Scrap's "cut man" (the guy who dresses a boxer's wounds in the ring so he can continue a bout) that night and although he didn't have the authority to throw in the towel, he's never forgiven himself for not finding a way to stop the fight. The guilt haunts him, leaving him a little too cautious with his fighters. What he doesn't realize is that Scrap would relive his career-ending bout in a heartbeat.
"He has lived through pain and come out the other side," Freeman says about his character. "He's all-accepting and not judgmental. He knows what makes Frankie tick."
Scrap also understands what makes Maggie tick. He recognizes her drive to become a champ that he once had as a fighter.
Freeman credits Hilary Swank for delivering an honest performance as the trailer park refugee with big dreams. "She looked great, didn't she?" he marvels. "She was constantly working, either jumping rope, hitting the bags, hitting the speed bag or shadowboxing. She was never still."
He also sensed chemistry with the 30-year-old actress. "Sometimes you get into a situation where you've got a great dancing partner, someone who really can anticipate your every move," he says. "You just flow together. That was Hilary and I."
Awards buzz for all three leads has started. But Freeman, a three-time Oscar nominee, takes it in stride, waving off any suggestion about taking home a gold statuette.
"I don't think about it," he says. "I can't. You can't predict that. I take a role because it's worthy in and of itself. So it's got nothing to do with (winning awards). If I do, fine. I can deal with it."
The modest actor hopes director Eastwood and Swank (both previous Oscar winners) earn Academy Award nominations. But he says his vote for best actor will go to Jamie Foxx, who portrays legendary bluesman Ray Charles in the biopic "Ray."
Next up Freeman plays Lucius Fox, a family friend of the young superhero in "Batman Begins." Asked about the challenges of moving from a low-tech drama like "Million Dollar Baby" to a big-budget action film like "Batman," Freeman responds, "Nothing's difficult. One gives you a certain amount of artistic satisfaction and one gives you great financial satisfaction."
Morgan Freeman named best supporting actor
Morgan Freeman has won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role as the onetime prize fighter and quiet voice of reason in Clint Eastwood's boxing drama "Million Dollar Baby".
Freeman, 67, was widely considered a favourite to win the Oscar, which came on the fourth Academy Award bid of his career.
"I want to thank everybody and anybody who ever had anything at all to do with the making of this picture," Freeman said in a brief acceptance speech on Sunday, calling the film "a labour of love."
He received a standing ovation from the audience at the Kodak Theatre, and exited after a deep bow.
He is only the fourth black performer -- after Louis Gossett Junior, Denzel Washington and Cuba Gooding Junior -- to clinch the film industry's top honour for a supporting actor.
Freeman, a modest, self-effacing actor, has been called the greatest living actor in film, but he often waves off the accolade saying he is "just lucky."
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Freeman worked as a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force and considered becoming a fighter pilot but stayed with acting instead. He began his movie career in the mid-1960s and has been cast mostly in supporting actor parts rather than the romantic lead.
He was previously Oscar-nominated for "Street Smart", "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Driving Miss Daisy" but his performance as the veteran fighter who lost an eye and turned to training was considered both the most understated and emotional of his distinguished career.
Morgan Freeman: a US president, then God, now Oscar winner
Morgan Freeman started acting nearly 40 years ago, playing a wide variety of roles, including a chauffeur, a US president and God, but he had to wait until to finally win his first Oscar.
Freeman won the statuette for best supporting actor for his role as former boxer Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris in Clint Eastwood's boxing drama "Million Dollar Baby."
In accepting the award, Freeman thanked those involved in the making of the film, especially director and lead actor nominee Eastwood, "for giving me the opportunity to work with him again and to work with Hilary Swank."
"This was a labor of love," he said.
The prolific 67-year-old star, born in the southern US state of Tennessee, began acting in theater productions in 1967 before moving on to film, where he has carved out a career from playing wise and determined characters.
He played the US president in the disaster flick "Deep Impact" (1997) and portrayed an even more powerful character -- God -- in "Bruce Almighty" (2003), a comedy starring Jim Carrey. He has also played former South African president Nelson Mandela and US civil rights activist Malcolm X.
Freeman earned his first of four Oscar nominations with his 1987 role as a tough pimp in "Street Smart." Although he failed to win the best supporting actor statuette, he was rewarded for his role by US film critic associations.
His moving portrayal of a chauffeur in the segregated US South in "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) won him a Golden Globe in the United States and a Silver Bear at the Berlin film festival. He also earned his second Oscar nomination for the film, this time for best actor.
In the moving 1989 drama "Glory," Freeman played a soldier in the first all-black volunteer company to fight for the North in the US Civil War.
He starred alongside Kevin Costner in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (1991) and with Brad Pitt in the crime thriller "Seven" (1995).
The father of four earned his third Oscar nomination, a best actor nod, for his role in "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994), based on a Stephen King book about a convicted killer (Tim Robbins) who insists he was wrongly accused. "Million Dollar Baby" was Freeman's second collaboration with Eastwood. In 1992, he starred in "Unforgiven" alongside Eastwood, who also directed the film.
Freeman: 'Maybe I'll Go And Join The KU KLUX KLAN'
Movie star MORGAN FREEMAN has accused his fellow African-Americans of supporting hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, by refusing to join his battle to remove the Confederate battle flag in the corner of the ensign of his home state of Mississippi.
The DRIVING MISS DAISY star fought lawmakers in 2001 to change the "slave flag's" design but his efforts were in vain - locals voted to keep the ensign just the way it is.
Freeman complains, "The flag, the stars and bars, has personal resonance to me because to me it doesn't represent so much the south as a very negative mind-set that is not necessarily southern.
"You see that flag wherever you see skinheads, radical right wingers, neo-Nazis, any hate group."
He adds, "It's pitiful. They still feel that they do not have a say. That's why they don't do it. That's the apathy part of it... It's too bad. Maybe now I'll go and join the Ku Klux Klan."
Freeman: 'Hollywood Is Evolving'
Hollywood actor MORGAN FREEMAN was delighted to be one of the two African Americans securing the male acting OSCARS last night (27FEB05) - a sign that "Hollywood is evolving".
Over the years, the ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURES, ARTS AND SCIENCES (AMPAS) has received criticisms from black rights groups for failing to recognise the acting achievements of African American actors.
This year (05) marks the first time the two Actor categories have gone to black stars, with JAMIE FOXX picking up Best Actor for RAY and Freeman receiving the Best Supporting Actor for MILLION DOLLAR BABY.
Freeman says, "(My Oscar) means Hollywood is continuing to make history.
"Life goes on, things change, they never stay the same. So we're evolving with the rest of the world.
"My Oscar means total acceptance. So many people vote for you when you get it."
Morgan Freeman Talks About "Levity"
Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman wears two hats for the film, "Levity." Writer/director Ed Solomon brought the script to Freeman years ago, seeking Freeman for the role of the tough but caring pastor, Miles Evans. Morgan Freeman signed on to the project as an actor, and along with Lori McCreary (Freeman's partner in Revelations Entertainment) also serves as an executive producer.
First-time director Ed Solomon had Morgan Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton in mind when he wrote the script, but didn't really expect to get actors of their caliber for this project. Freeman took a chance on the first-time director because he felt playing Miles would be quite a challenge. He was drawn to the role of Miles because of the character's enigmatic qualities.
In this interview, Morgan Freeman discusses working on this dramatic film, his dislike of cold weather shoots, and explains just what an executive producer credit means.
MORGAN FREEMAN ('Miles')
The mood on the set has been described as serious. Is that how you'd describe it?
Yes, because we're all freezing our behinds off and not happy.
And not getting paid much.
But that's not what governs life on the set. It can have an enormous effect because big budget movies can have big budget perks, and small budget movies have no perks, but what is the driving force, of course, is the script, and your part in it. However, if you're like me, a person who really detests cold, it's hard to work in those conditions. You can't get me warm if you get me outside. You can stuff me with all kinds of clothes and pour hot soup all over me, I'm cold and I don't like it, and you can't make me like it. So, there.
"Dreamcatcher" was cold, too. How did you deal with that? By drinking alcohol?
[Laughing] Let me be the first to tell you, drinking alcohol is the worst thing to do in cold weather. Hot soup is the best because the process of digesting food helps to warm you up. I know all of that, and it works for some people, not for me. I don't know how I cope. I just do the best that I can and sometimes I get sick and that gets me in bed and I can stay put for a while [laughing].
Did you realize when you signed on for "Levity" and "Dreamcatcher" that you'd be shooting in the cold?
Yes, but you try to overcome your own shortcomings.
What about this script intrigued you?
I was just discussing this whole question and answer thing with Ed [Solomon]. What we do and why we're in this game, to play as many games as we can, to find different kinds of games to play, how many different characters can we be believable as. Will you be fortunate enough to find good scripts? Will you put yourself in the position that these come your way, rather than just the everyday stock? I just realized this today, someone mentioned it, they said, "Was it a challenge doing this role?" I said, "No, I don't think it's a challenge." Acting itself is just acting. There is a challenge, however, and the challenge is getting yourself out of the way. So, how many times and how successful can you be in getting yourself out of the way?
You mean really being someone else?
Really being someone else, really. I borrowed this because someone was telling me that Jack Nicholson gave this answer to a question. He said what he does, what he has to do for every role, is to work at De-Jacking, getting Jack out of the way, and you recognize that that's the truth of it. That is the task. When you read it, you can see the character and the character isn't you. The character is the character. You want to shed all of whatever is going on here and just put on that suit and wear it constantly, which is why I don't like to see myself in the movies because myself is what I see. You can feel anyway that you want, you can try and hide any way that you want, but you're not going to hide from yourself.
When I was doing theater, I was very successful at believing that I was great, God's gift to the theater [laughing]. That's what they say. They come up and they say, "You were fabulous." Okay, that's good, but I didn't see "The Taming of the Shrew," and so I believe you. That's what I want. I want to believe you. I want to see myself through your eyes.
You can't see that when you watch yourself on screen?
No, no. I see every false move.
What kind of rehearsal and prep time did you have for this movie, since you were the executive producer?
Let me tell you about being executive producer. It is not a job, it's a title. Don't go around asking executive producers what they do because they don't do anything, alright?
They just supply more money?
They don't necessarily supply money. Did you see "State and Main?" Do you remember what they were always saying? "Let's give him an executive producer credit," because you don't really have to supply much of anything, just be involved. In my case, I'm involved from the standpoint that my company is involved in the development. My partner is a producer and she does the hard work. I just get the credit, an 'Executive Producer' credit [laughing].
Would you have forgiven Billy Bob Thornton's character in this film?
Oh yeah. Why? Well, I think that in the eyes of society... A little while back there was a woman who was on trial for having murdered her son. It wasn't really a murder, it was a mercy killing because he had one of those terrible, terrible diseases. She'd seen her husband die of it and her sons, they were all going to go. She was watching it, he was in the hospital, looking at her like, "Momma, I can't." So you know, I wouldn't even put that woman on trial because she's gonna pay, she's gonna pay. She did that out of all of the love that a mother could muster. I can't imagine what it takes to kill your own child. If she says, "Put me in jail," [then] okay, fine. "I'll put you in jail, I know what you're asking, but you don't need to this. You don't need to go. You're going to make yourself pay." It's the same thing with this guy. He was a kid and he never forgave himself and he needed someone else to say, "It's alright, you're forgiven." I don't think that this guy would be able to accept that.
What are your thoughts on Ed Solomon as a director?
I think that if he wants to continue to direct, I think that he'll turn into one of the good ones because he has this learning ability. He's in learning mode and [catching] on to what it takes to direct. The danger in being a writer/director is coming together with other people with other ideas and trying to impose that on them. You don't want a writer on the set. You've written it, we read it, we get it. You have to go away because what I get, you might not have ever have seen while you were creating [the script], and I need the latitude to perform it. Sometimes it's hard to do that with writers. Some writer/directors, particularly the one's with some mileage, get it and so they banish the writer. Others don't, you just manage to accommodate one another's needs.
Are you going to make more Alex Cross movies?
Oh yeah, yeah. I think that we probably have a couple in development right now. Definitely, we have script ideas in development right now.
Isn't it taking a long time? It seems like there should be one a year.
It seems like [that], but it's a lot more difficult than that, and you don't want to. You don't want them to be too prolific. It's better to leave people wanting more than have them saying, "Enough."
Will there be a follow-up to "Seven?"
There is no sequel to "Seven."
Do you get asked that sequel question a lot?
Oh yes, at every one of these [press junkets]. The answer is always the same. There is no sequel to "Seven" in any manner that I know about. If there is going to be a sequel to "Seven" and I'm supposed to be involved, then it would seem to me that I would know about it.
In "Bruce Almighty" you play God. What's it like to play that role?
It's no different than if I was acting as some Colonel in some military operation. It's no different than acting anything. You're pretending to be something you're not, no different. If it's on the page, it's easy to do.
What does having a star on the Walk of Fame mean to you?
How to quantify that? I was asked by someone on the day of, and he said, "You've probably been waiting all of your life for this." I said, "Truthfully, no. This isn't something that you wait for. This is a gift." Having a star on the Walk of Fame, it's one of those acknowledgements that you are where you belong. "Welcome to the Pantheon, people have gotten here and stayed a minute longer than fifteen." [Laughing] It feels good, it feels very good.
Morgan Explains His Love For Misundersood Mississippi
OSCAR nominee MORGAN FREEMAN has discovered why he loves his home state of Mississippi so much - it's less racist than most other places in America.
The actor grew up in racial segregation in the Delta region, which was once considered the heartland of American racism, but he insists he never felt oppression until he moved away.
And now he has fond memories of his childhood, despite the fact he wasn't allowed to attend certain clubs and had to sit on the balcony of his local cinema because only whites were allowed downstairs.
He says, "It can't bother you if that's the way life is. If you were raised up in Africa and you ate worms it wouldn't bother you, would it? Same thing.
"I wasn't thinking about rising up and going up to the Paramount and demanding to be let in to the ground floor. I just wanted to go to the movies."
Freeman admits he once dreamed of getting far away from Mississippi, but now he lives there and owns a blues bar and restaurant in Clarksdale.
He admits the state is still one of the most friendly places on earth, despite it's dubious reputation.
He adds, "I grew up in a segregated society that was purposely, obviously, openly segregated. I wasn't given any BS about anything else and I went up to the north and you see it and it's insidious... You want to think you're free-er but you're not."
Morgan Freeman wins Oscar
African-American actor Morgan Freeman has won his first Oscar for his performance in Million Dollar Baby.
He was up against stiff competition from veteran actor Alan Alda in The Aviator and Clive Owen in Mike Nichols' Closer.
A surprised Freeman said during his acceptance speech that he particularly “want(ed) to thank Clint Eastwood” and called the project a “labour of love”.
Morgan Freeman plays Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris, an ex-boxer who sees the spark of determination in a young waitress to become a fighter.
The other Best Actor nominee, Jamie Foxx for Collateral, is the hot favourite to win the Best Actor gong for his title role in Ray.