FEATURE MORGAN FREEMAN
The seven ages of Freeman
Highly respected and critically praised, Morgan Freeman still isn’t as famous as his A-list co-stars — but playing a homicide cop hunting a serial killer in Seven has ﬁnally pushed his name above the title.
omc say Morgan Freeman will never be a ten million dollar star in his own right. They reckon the odds are stacked against this ageing black man, that he will remain what he is now — a highly acclaimed supporting actor.
It’s an argument that holds some water. Freeman has thrice been Oscar-nominated — for his roles in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy and The Shawshank Redemption — but he’s not a household name. His fame tends to be eclipsed by the better known actors he stars alongside. Next up, in his new film Seven, Freeman takes his place beside the very much more famous Brad Pitt.
But don’t let Morgan Freeman think you believe he’s hard done by. In the flesh, this actor of almost 60 years of age is a dynamic, humorous man with a loud voice and commanding confidence. He wears an
12 The List l5 Dec 1995-11 Jan 1996
He tells Hannah Fries he’s happy with his lot.
expensive black suit and a large gold earring. With an impatient swing of the arm, he scotches any suggestion that being black has made his actor’s life harder. ‘For me to get
‘It’s been said to me that there are tow good roles about for black actors and that I seem to get a very healthy share of them. I don’t see it that way.
There are tons of good roles about
because there are lots of good actors worklng.’
where I am now was no more difficult than anybody else’s difficulty in getting to this position,’ he says. ‘I don't have anyone else’s experience to go by, but I don’t think it’s easy for anyone. Y’know, it’s a long hard road. Some of us get here a lot quicker, but you still
pay a price. However you have to, you’ll do it.’
That said, for Freeman. stardom has been a long time coming. Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1937, he was educated at LA Community College and served in the US Air Force for four years at the end of the 503 before his acting career got properly underway. It was on the New York stage that he first made his name (in an all-black production of Hello Dolly) and on national television that he became a recognised face (in the early 703 kids’ programme The Electric Company). However, it wasn’t until he won both the LA and New York Critics’ Award for Best Supporting Actor and got a nod from the Academy for his role as a pimp in 1987’s Street Smart that the film industry took notice of him. Some heavyweight roles followed — the school principal in Lean On Me, the older soldier in Glory - as well as smaller parts in high proﬁle ﬁlms — Robin Hood: Prince Of