Thieves, Unforgiven, Outbreak. He also made his debut as director with the South African drama Bop/2a! in 1993.

Success has not harmed Freeman’s natural optimism, modesty and generosity. He is positively enthusiastic about opportunities in today’s Hollywood: ‘lt’s been said to me that there are few good roles about for black actors and that 1 seem to get a very healthy share of them. 1 don’t see it that way. There are tons of good roles about because there are lots of good actors working. And l’m envious of a lot of them. Take Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction —- I’d give Sam my eye tooth! Or Denzel Washington in Devil In A Blue Dress he can have my two front teeth! No, really, we all appreciate that we’re working, doing good work and getting good roles. It’s uplifting.’

‘When I was doing stage work,

I had total belief in myself as one of the chosen, because I was looking at myself strictly through the eyes of the audience. Then you get into film and you can really see yourself, and all of that stuff falls to pieces. You lust see your own little human weak self.’

it seems pointless to bang on about racial disadvantage when Freeman’s long hard journey has taken him past countless white competitors. He has fought for his position in one of the toughest industries around, so however you look at it, Freeman is one of the winners. Undoubtedly the biggest key to his current success was his second Oscar nomination for his role as the chauffeur in the film of Driving Miss Daisy, a part he created and made his own on the Broadway stage.

‘Once you’re singled out as having done extraordinary work, then in the future you are going to get what you need to get,’ he says. ‘What is important, though, or at least what 1 go to sleep telling myself is important, is that initial pat on the back. Not to say that if my

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Morgan Freeman in two Oscar - nominated roles: with 1’lm Robins in The Shawshank Redemption...

name is called, I won’t jump right up and run up there giggling and grinning. Y’know 1 will. But 1 do think in my heart of hearts that you can’t single out the best. I’m not interested in being singled out.’ So, if not for the glory, for what reward does Morgan Freeman act? Ask him, and his answer is blunt: ‘For money. Money. Next question.’

Happily, this thesp is no pseud. His lack of ego is evident when he describes his learning process: ‘I watched everybody when l was growing up. 1 stole everything. 1 don’t emulate, ljust steal. From Victor Mature, John Wayne, from many people. As a matter of fact, and I shouldn’t say this, but I invest very little time in any preparation now. Some directors send you reams and reams of ' research stuff. I’ve felt sometimes that I owed it to some “muse”, I suppose to do research, but 1 found it didn’t add anything to my performance.

‘When I was doing stage work, l had total belief in ' myself as one of the chosen you know, the best because 1 was looking at myself strictly through the eyes of the audience. 1 don’t have to judge, they judge me and 1 come out looking real good. But, of course, then you get into film and you can really see yourself, and all of that stuff falls to pieces. You can no longer really trust the audience. You can just see your own little human weak self. That’s what 1 see.’

If there is a secret to Morgan Freeman’s con- siderable achievements, it is

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his inexhaustible lust for life. ,, _ ,; - ,.~ ' « He too admits to being lustful ' ,;. - '-

- one of the seven deadly sins

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which provide the framework for murder in Seven but excuses himself: ‘Lust isn’t a deadly sin at all. 1 think it’s a virtue. Without lust, there is no life.’ As to other ‘sins’, he says he has to watch out for envy, but utilises his wrath. ‘Wrath often gets us up off our butts and going at something.’

Approaching 60, most men are considering retirement, but Freeman laughs at the suggestion that he too might have had enough. ‘l’il go on forever. You’ll be an old woman saying, “I remember meeting him. We had an interview once . . . oh, many years ago. It’s amazing that he’s still going. . .

Seven opens on Friday 5 January, and is reviewed on page 37.

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The List 15 Dec 1995-11 Jan 199613