Morgan Freeman, the US actor that is equally known for his authoritative voice and narrations as his acting, has been chosen as our first ever Person insight. Calm, collective and seemingly astute, IMDb claim Freeman to be “one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema”.
Freeman was born on June 1st 1937 to teacher and barber parents; his father shares Freeman’s same forename. Freeman (for the sake of simplicity we shan’t address Morgan as Freeman Junior throughout hi biography article), began his working career as a mechanic in the US Airforce, and gained his first artistic performance in the production of Hello, Dolly! Somewhat of a change of scenery.
Through the 1970s, Morgan specialised in on-stage performances, and its clear to see from his lifetime résumé that he bloomed late; but boy did he bloom! Worth an estimated 90 million dollars and having been Oscar nominated on four separate occasions for Street Smart (1987), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Invictus (2009), Freeman’s Golden Globe Award was absolutely rightly deserved. Other classic and top-notch films Freeman has been particularly noted for include Glory (1989), Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991), Seven (1995), Deep Impact (1998), The Sum of All Fears (2002), Bruce Almighty (2003), The Dark Knight Trilogy, and most recently in 2014 The Lego Movie and Lucy. Freeman is most definitely a box-office star.
Whether it be Freeman’s courageous presence assisting Robin Hood, his authoritative overlooking of Bruce Almighty, or his cunning presence in Andy Dufresne’s prison-life, his acting skills are all there to be seen (and heard). One side of his story, however, is a lot less known to the public, and that be his TV screen appearances on children’s shows. Playing several characters on The Electric Company, and in the children’s adventure film Who Says I Can’t Ride A Rainbow, we bet he couldn’t predict himself of the future that was to come soon after.
Such future didn’t arrive smoothly, though. Featuring consistently in films of differing quality and audience level, Freeman’s breakthrough came in his outstanding performance in Street Smart, leading to Driving Miss Daisy and Glory very soon after. Some good and some even better films came after, not to mention his feature in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), however arguably Freeman’s best acting highlights were in 1994 when he starred as the secondary character in The Shawshank Redemption; wonderfully assisting actor Tim Robbins in escaping an American Prison, giving us a cinematic real-life experience of life behind a prison cell.
Whilst 1994 could be considered the year of his finest acting moment, 11 years later in 2005 was arguably his greatest year in the limelight. Acting in no less than 10 films between the two dates in his life, it was his ongoing demeanour and ‘divine’ charisma that continued to land him his specific roles in the films, two traits we all associate with the actor. In 2005, Freeman teamed up with Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby, received his fourth Oscar nomination and won Best Supporting Oscar, and narrated several films (of particular note War of the Worlds by Steven Speilberg). Not much short of a great year.
Freeman hasn’t stopped at acting, too, being both star actor and executive producer of Invictus (2009). In reward for his absolutely compelling portrayal of Nelson Mandela, Freeman was awarded Oscar, Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominations, and won the National Board of Review for best actor.
Our personal favourite film of Morgan Freeman has to be The Shawshank Redemption, of course, and might there never be a film so good by any actor or actress; The Shawshank Redemption is seen by alot of critics as the best film ever, or at least in all their top fives. Here, Freeman plays a long-serving prisoner who is known to be ‘that guy that can get you anything during your time within the prison walls.’ By this very character role, Freeman is introduced to a new prisoner that arrives after being wrongly sentenced for a crime that he didn’t commit. The film’s screenplay consists largely of interactions between each other and their friends, and how both main characters make a positive influence on others in Shawshank; until the twist.
Short of The Shawshank Redemption being the obvious answer, the SATORI & SCOUT workspace team are equally punting Lucky Number Slevin to be our next favourite of his. Despite playing only a secondary role within this film, we ask you this: if it were not Freeman as one of the two mob bosses, then which other actor would you chose, and who would have been so compelling to make this somewhat farcical script be quite so believable?
We leave you with an example of just how compelling his narrative voice is, though we’d hope you have watched at least one of the aforementioned films. Freeman recently met with Vanity Fair and the world was graced by his spoken word version of Justin Bieber’s recent hit Love Yourself. This song about relationships (as expected with the modern-day Pop genre) takes an all too worrying turn when the lyrics are heard not in a jovial and upbeat sung voice, but a sincere and meaningful spoken one. The world would probably be amazed even if Morgan Freeman narrated IKEA assembly instructions, or an Accountancy journal.
Morgan FreemanActor : Aged 78 In 2016 : Acted Professionally Since 1964 : Worth $90 million.
(Photography Credit : Ed Campion)