MORGAN FREEMAN

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Morgan Freeman[1] (born June 1, 1937) is an American actor, film director, and narrator. Freeman has received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus and won in 2005 for Million Dollar Baby. He has also won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Freeman has appeared in many other box office hits, including Unforgiven, Glory, Seven, Deep Impact, The Sum of All Fears, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, the Dark Knight trilogy, and March of the Penguins.

 

Early life

Morgan Freeman was born in Memphis, Tennessee on June 1st, 1937. He was the son of Mayme Edna (née Revere), a teacher,[2] and Morgan Porterfield Freeman,[1] a barber who died April 27, 1961, from cirrhosis. He has three older siblings. Freeman was sent as an infant to his paternal grandmother in Charleston, Mississippi.[3][4][5] His family moved frequently during his childhood, living in Greenwood, Mississippi; Gary, Indiana; and finally Chicago, Illinois.[5] According to a DNA analysis, some of his ancestors were from Niger.[6]
Freeman made his acting debut at age nine, playing the lead role in a school play. He then attended Broad Street High School, a building which serves today as Threadgill Elementary School, in Greenwood, Mississippi.[7] At age 12, he won a statewide drama competition, and while still at Broad Street High School, he performed in a radio show based in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1955, he graduated from Broad Street, but turned down a partial drama scholarship from Jackson State University, opting instead to serve as a radar technician in the United States Air Force.[8]
Freeman subsequently moved to Los Angeles, California, where he took acting lessons at the Pasadena Playhouse and dancing lessons in San Francisco in the early 1960s and worked as a transcript clerk at Los Angeles Community College.[8] During this period, he also lived in New York City, working as a dancer at the 1964 World’s Fair, and in San Francisco, where he was a member of the Opera Ring musical theater group. Freeman acted in a touring company version of The Royal Hunt of the Sun, and also appeared as an extra in the 1965 film The Pawnbroker. He made his off-Broadway debut in 1967, opposite Viveca Lindfors in The Nigger Lovers[9][10] (about the civil rights eraFreedom Riders“), before debuting on Broadway in 1968’s all-black version of Hello, Dolly! which also starred Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway.
He continued to be involved in theater work and received the Obie Award in 1980 for the title role in Coriolanus. In 1984, he received his second Obie Award for his role as the preacher in The Gospel at Colonus. Freeman also won a Drama Desk Award and a Clarence Derwent Award for his role as a wino in The Mighty Gents. He received his third Obie Award for his role as a chauffeur for a Jewish widow in Driving Miss Daisy, which was adapted for the screen in 1989.[8]

Career

Acting career

Freeman at the 10 Items or Less premiere in Madrid with co-star Paz Vega

Although his first credited film appearance was in 1971’s Who Says I Can’t Ride a Rainbow?, Freeman first became known in the American media through roles on the soap opera Another World and the PBS kids’ show The Electric Company,[5] (notably as Easy Reader, Mel Mounds the DJ, and Vincent the Vegetable Vampire).
Beginning in the mid-1980s, Freeman began playing prominent supporting roles in many feature films, earning him a reputation for depicting wise, fatherly characters.[5] As he gained fame, he went on to bigger roles in films such as the chauffeur Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy, and Sergeant Major Rawlins in Glory (both in 1989).[5] In 1994, he portrayed Red, the redeemed convict in the acclaimed The Shawshank Redemption. In the same year he was a member of the jury at the 44th Berlin International Film Festival.[11]
He also starred in such films as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Unforgiven, Seven, and Deep Impact. In 1997, Freeman, together with Lori McCreary, founded the film production company Revelations Entertainment, and the two co-head its sister online film distribution company ClickStar. Freeman also hosts the channel Our Space on ClickStar, with specially crafted film clips in which he shares his love for the sciences, especially space exploration and aeronautics.
After three previous nominations—a supporting actor nomination for Street Smart, and leading actor nominations for Driving Miss Daisy and The Shawshank Redemption—he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Million Dollar Baby at the 77th Academy Awards.[5] Freeman is recognized for his distinctive voice, making him a frequent choice for narration. In 2005 alone, he provided narration for two films, War of the Worlds and the Academy Award-winning documentary film March of the Penguins.
Freeman appeared as God in the hit film Bruce Almighty and its sequel, Evan Almighty, as well as Lucius Fox in the critical and commercial success Batman Begins and its sequels, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. He starred in Rob Reiner‘s 2007 film The Bucket List, opposite Jack Nicholson. He teamed with Christopher Walken and William H. Macy for the comedy The Maiden Heist, which was released direct to video due to financial problems with the distribution company. In 2008, Freeman returned to Broadway to co-star with Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher for a limited engagement of Clifford Odets‘ play, The Country Girl, directed by Mike Nichols.
He had wanted to do a film based on Nelson Mandela for some time. At first he tried to get Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom adapted into a finished script, but it was not finalized.[12] In 2007 he purchased the film rights to a 2008 book by John Carlin, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation.[13] Clint Eastwood directed the Nelson Mandela bio-pic titled Invictus, starring Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as rugby team captain Francois Pienaar.[14] In October 2010, Freeman co-starred alongside Bruce Willis in Red.[15]
Freeman’s latest project is the Danny DeVito-directed film Charlotte Doyle which will also feature Pierce Brosnan, and is due to begin filming in Ireland in early 2012.[16]

Other work

In July 2009, Freeman was one of the presenters at the 46664 concert (celebrating Nelson Mandela‘s birthday) at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Freeman was the first American to record a par on Legend Golf & Safari Resort’s Extreme 19th hole.[17]
At age 65, Freeman earned a private pilot’s license.[18] He owns or has owned at least three private aircraft, including a Cessna Citation 501 jet and a Cessna 414 twin-engine prop. In 2007 he purchased an Emivest SJ30[19] long-range private jet and took delivery in December 2009.[20] He is certified to fly all of them.[21]
Effective January 4, 2010, Freeman replaced Walter Cronkite as the voiceover introduction to the CBS Evening News featuring Katie Couric as news anchor.[22] CBS cited the need for consistency in introductions for regular news broadcasts and special reports as the basis for the change.[22]
As of 2010, Freeman is the host and narrator of the Discovery Channel television show Through the Wormhole.[23]
He was featured on the opening track to B.o.B‘s second album Strange Clouds. The track, “Bombs Away”, features a prologue and epilogue (which leads in to a musical outro) spoken by Morgan Freeman.
In September 2011, Freeman was featured with John Lithgow in the Broadway debut of Dustin Lance Black‘s play, ‘8’ — a staged reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage — as Attorney David Boies.[24] The production was held at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.[25][26]

Personal life

Freeman and his wife, Myrna Colley-Lee, at the 1990 Academy Awards

Family

Freeman was married to Jeanette Adair Bradshaw from October 22, 1967 until 1979.
He married Myrna Colley-Lee on June 16, 1984. The couple separated in December 2007. Freeman and Colley-Lee had adopted Freeman’s step-granddaughter from his first marriage and together helped to raise her. Freeman’s attorney and business partner Bill Luckett announced in August 2008 that Freeman and his wife were in divorce proceedings.On September 15, 2010 their divorce was finalized in Mississippi. In 2008, the TV series African American Lives 2 revealed that some of Freeman’s great-great-grandparents were slaves who migrated from North Carolina to Mississippi. Freeman also discovered that his Caucasian maternal great-great-grandfather had lived with, and was buried beside, Freeman’s African-American great-great-grandmother (the two could not legally marry at the time, in the segregated South).[2] A DNA test on the series stated that he is descended from the Songhai and Tuareg peoples of Niger.[6]

Properties

Freeman lives in Charleston, Mississippi, and New York City. He co-owns and operates Madidi,[27] a fine dining restaurant, and Ground Zero, a blues club, both located in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Car accident

Freeman was injured in an automobile accident near Ruleville, Mississippi, on the night of August 3, 2008. The vehicle in which he was traveling, a 1997 Nissan Maxima, left the highway and flipped over several times. He and a female passenger, Demaris Meyer, were rescued from the vehicle using the “Jaws of Life“. Freeman was taken via medical helicopter to The Regional Medical Center (The Med) hospital in Memphis.[28][29] Police ruled out alcohol as a factor in the crash.[30] Freeman was coherent following the crash, as he joked to a photographer about taking his picture at the scene.[31] His left shoulder, arm and elbow were broken in the crash and he had surgery on August 5, 2008. Doctors operated for four hours to repair nerve damage in his shoulder and arm.[32] On CNN‘s Piers Morgan Tonight he stated that he is left handed but cannot move the fingers of his left hand. He wears a compression glove to protect against blood pooling due to non-movement. His publicist announced he was expected to make a full recovery.[33][34] Meyer, his passenger, sued him for negligence, claiming that he was drinking the night of the accident.[35] Subsequently, the suit was settled.[36]

Beliefs

In an interview with CNN, Freeman denied the claim that he was a “man of God,” saying that “the question of faith is whatever you actually believe is. We take a lot of what we’re talking about in science on faith; we posit a theory, and until it’s disproven we have faith that it’s true.”[37]

Activism

Charitable work

In 2004, Freeman and others formed the Grenada Relief Fund to aid people affected by Hurricane Ivan on the island of Grenada. The fund has since become PLANIT NOW, an organization that seeks to provide preparedness resources for people living in hurricane- and severe-storm afflicted areas.[38]
Freeman has worked on narrating small clips for global organizations, such as One Earth,[39] whose goals include raising awareness of environmental issues. He has narrated the clip “Why Are We Here,” which can be viewed on One Earth’s website.
Freeman has donated money to the Mississippi Horse Park in Starkville, Mississippi. The park is part of Mississippi State University. Freeman has several horses that he takes there.[40]

Comments on race

Freeman has publicly criticized the celebration of Black History Month and does not participate in any related events, saying, “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.”[41] He says the only way to end racism is to stop talking about it, and he notes that there is no “white history month.”[42] Freeman once said on an interview with 60 MinutesMike Wallace, “I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”[41][43] Freeman supported the defeated proposal to change the Mississippi state flag, which contains the Confederate battle flag.[44][45]

Politics

Freeman endorsed Barack Obama‘s candidacy for the 2008 presidential election, although he stated that he would not join Obama’s campaign.[46] He narrates for The Hall of Presidents with Barack Obama, who has been added to the exhibit.[47][48] The Hall of Presidents re-opened on July 4, 2009 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.[48]
Freeman joined President Bill Clinton, USA Bid Committee Chairman Sunil Gulati, and USMNT midfielder Landon Donovan on Wednesday, December 1, 2010, in Zurich for the USA bid committee’s final presentation to FIFA for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.[49]
Freeman sparked controversy in September 2011 when, on CNN‘s Piers Morgan Tonight, he accused the Tea Party movement of racism.[50]

Freeman: [the Tea Party’s] stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What’s, what does that, what underlies that? Screw the country. We’re going to do whatever we do to get this black man, we can, we’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man outta here. Morgan: But is that necessarily a racist thing?…Wouldn’t they say that about any Democrat?
Freeman: It is a racist thing…[The rise of the Tea Party] shows the weak, dark underside of America. We’re supposed to be better than that. We really are. That’s why all those people were in tears when Obama was elected president. ‘Ah look at what we are–this is America.’ Then it just sort of started turning because these people surfaced–like stirring up muddy water.[51][52]

Honors

On October 28, 2006, Freeman was honored at the first Mississippi’s Best Awards in Jackson, Mississippi, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his works on and off the big screen. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts and Letters from Delta State University during the school’s commencement exercises on May 13, 2006.[53]

Filmography

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1964 The Pawnbroker Man on Street uncredited
1966 A Man Called Adam Unknown uncredited
1968 Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? Grand Central Commuter uncredited
1980 Brubaker Walter  
1981 Eyewitness Lieutenant Black  
1984 Teachers Al Lewis  
1984 Harry & Son Siemanowski  
1985 Marie Charles Traughber  
1985 That Was Then… This Is Now Charlie Woods  
1987 Street Smart Fast Black Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1988 Clean and Sober Craig  
1989 Glory Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
1989 Driving Miss Daisy Hoke Colburn 40th Berlin International Film Festival – Silver Bear for Best Joint Performance (shared with Jessica Tandy)[54]
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
1989 Lean on Me Principal Joe Clark  
1989 Johnny Handsome Lt. A.Z. Drones  
1990 The Bonfire of the Vanities Judge Leonard White  
1990 The Civil War Voice of Frederick Douglass  
1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Azeem Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo (shared with Kevin Costner)
1992 Unforgiven Ned Logan  
1992 The Power of One Geel Piet  
1993 Bopha!   director only, his directorial debut
1994 The Shawshank Redemption Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, Narrator Chlotrudis Award for Best Actor (tied with Wallace Shawn for Vanya on 42nd Street)
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
1995 Outbreak Brig. Gen. Billy Ford  
1995 Se7en Detective Lt. William Somerset Empire Award for Best Actor
London Film Critics Circle Award for Actor of the Year
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo (shared with Brad Pitt)
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor
1996 Chain Reaction Paul Shannon  
1996 Moll Flanders Hibble  
1996 Cosmic Voyage Narrator  
1997 Amistad Theodore Joadson  
1997 Kiss The Girls Dr. Alex Cross  
1997 The Long Way Home Narrator  
1998 Deep Impact President Tom Beck  
1998 Hard Rain Jim  
2000 Nurse Betty Charlie Quinn Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2000 Under Suspicion Victor Benezet  
2001 Along Came a Spider Dr. Alex Cross  
2002 The Sum of All Fears DCI William Cabot  
2002 High Crimes Charlie Grimes  
2003 Bruce Almighty God  
2003 Dreamcatcher Col. Abraham Curtis  
2003 Levity Pastor Miles Evans  
2003 Drug War Lt. Redding  
2004 Million Dollar Baby Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Italian Online Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2004 The Hunting of the President Narrator limited release
2004 The Big Bounce Walter Crewes  
2005 An Unfinished Life Mitch Bradley  
2005 War of the Worlds Narrator  
2005 March of the Penguins Narrator  
2005 Batman Begins Lucius Fox  
2005 Unleashed Sam  
2006 Edison Force Ashford  
2006 The Contract Frank Carden  
2006 Lucky Number Slevin The Boss  
2006 10 Items or Less Himself  
2007 Evan Almighty God  
2007 Feast of Love Harry Stephenson  
2007 Gone, Baby, Gone Jack Doyle  
2007 The Bucket List Carter Chambers Also Narrator
2008 Wanted Sloan  
2008 The Love Guru Narrator Voice
2008 The Dark Knight Lucius Fox Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
2009 Prom Night in Mississippi Himself limited release
2009 Thick as Thieves Keith Ripley  
2009 The Maiden Heist Charlie  
2009 Invictus Nelson Mandela NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor (tied with George Clooney for Up in the Air)
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association for Best Actor
2010 RED Joe  
2011 Born to Be Wild Narrator  
2011 Conan the Barbarian Narrator[55]  
2011 Breaking the Taboo Narrator[56]  
2011 Dolphin Tale Dr. Cameron McCarthy  
2012 The Magic of Belle Isle Monte Wildhorn  
2012 The Dark Knight Rises Lucius Fox  
2013 Olympus Has Fallen Speaker Trumbull post-production
2013 Oblivion Malcolm Beech post-production
2013 Now You See Me Thaddeus Bradley in production
2013 Last Vegas Archie in production
2013 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Zachariah in production
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1971–1977 The Electric Company Easy Reader, DJ Mel Mounds, Dracula, Vincent the Vegetable Vampire television series
1978 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Uncle Hammer made-for-television
1981 Ryan’s Hope Cicero Murphy TV series (various episodes)
1981 The Marva Collins Story Clarence Collins made-for-television
1982–1984 Another World Roy Bingham TV series (various episodes)
1985 The Twilight Zone Tony Television series (episode “Dealer’s Choice”)
1986 Resting Place Luther Johnson made-for-television
1987 Fight For Life Dr. Sherard made-for-television
2008 Smithsonian Channel’s Sound Revolution Himself (host) television series, series host
2008 Stephen Fry in America Himself television series, appears in episode 3
2010 The Colbert Report Himself interview
2010 The Daily Show Himself interview
2010–2013 Through the Wormhole
with Morgan Freeman[23]
Himself (host) television series, series host
2010 Saturday Night Live Himself (celebrity cameo) What Up with That
2011 Curiosity Himself “Is There a Parallel Universe?” (#1.5)

Other awards and honors

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