HELLO AMERICA!—There is no doubt that Morgan Freeman is one of the most talented actors we have today in the entertainment industry. However, when he graduated from high school, becoming pilot appealed to him more than anything and signed up to the U.S. Airforce. It didn’t take long for his dream to dim because he was relegated to “ground” duty not that of conquering the big skies. This is when he decided that the Airforce was not for him and told himself, “You are not in love with this; you are in love with the idea of this.” And that was it!
His views about life, acting and surviving in one of the toughest businesses in the world is expressed with just as much straight forwardness, Morgan lets it all hang out: “When I read a script I make sure that I have a clear picture of all the other characters around me. If it takes outside research or if it has something to do with another period or era, I need to understand the basic rhythm, the feeling, concerns of those who lived or existed during that time. Especially, if I was creating a character from the 20s or 30s, it’s a kind of joy-ride of sorts which forces an audience to take the journey with you.”
Morgan was seriously affected by the cinema presence of such actors as Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Gary Cooper. “They made you believe every moment they were on the screen, no over dramatic affectations, just plain and simple honest portrayal and that’s why they are so memorable, truly film icons.”
When asking him if he had a pet-peeve when working with other actors, he didn’t hesitate noting that he gets upset with those who are not prepared when shooting a scene. “I feel,” he clarified, “that if I’ve taken time to learn my lines and understand where my marks are, why it should be difficult for others, especially if they are seasoned film people. After all, it’s a job and you are entrusted with a property which will be hopefully marketable — that’s why you are hired. So many youngsters don’t realize how fortunate they are to even be allowed to work on some of the top shows in the biz or in films. It’s an art which controls one’s entire life if one genuinely has the hunger or need to survive!”
He quickly admitted that he has been one of the luckiest actors in Hollywood. “After all I was able to perform with the likes of Jessica Tandy in a beautiful film story like “Driving Miss Daisy.” What an artist she was, every minute with her was memorable, classic!” He admitted that films such as “Shawshank Redemption” and “Seven” and “Deep Impact” were exceptional experiences as well. “I’ve been extremely lucky to work with some extraordinary artists, so I have no complaints.”
His opinion about the Academy membership or recognition is approached on the same level of professional consideration as his other industry opinions. Morgan’s opinion concerning Oscar nominations and the like is quite simple. “You might be considered one of the greatest actors in the world,” he said, “but if the category you’re in is not noted by the membership, that’s it. There is no law or rule which indicates a “right” for any kind of an award. So it’s really a waste of time that just because of your race or color to expect to be given some kind of artistic preference. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones but I can’t say that I deserved my awards more than anyone else really. Some of the most exciting actors we’ve ever had in the business have been overlooked at various times. Bogart, Grant, I could go on and on.”
What does he think of some of the films featuring or starring actors of color today? “A few are worthy of applause, however, there are too many that are simply thin with stereotypical characters laced with an updated hairstyle wearing the same face of anger and distrust which identified the black woman and man during the early days of Hollywood. And it’s not all the white writers’ fault, black writers feel if they don’t follow that line of identification, a producer won’t accept their work. Of course a few have broken through; however, there is always a glint of the old thinking allowed to make home base happy.
I heard where Nick Cannon said he was sick and tired of slave films or series and I totally agree. We have come a long way since “Gone with the Wind” even “Roots” or how we fit in this game labeled a Democracy. The bottom line is that we have got to know our history, if you have an interest in an acting career, you should prepare yourself as you would for any other challenging undertaking.” Morgan’s general take on the business is very simple and clear: “Like everything else in life, we have done much in a very positive sense but we still have a long way to go but the journey should be quite exciting but challenging, of course.”