I was already in college, but I really enjoyed watching the Electric Company. And one of my favorite actors was this guy who played a number of characters, but especially Easy Reader. Little did I know that being stuck on children’s television was literally driving Morgan Freeman to drink.
I saw Brubaker (1980) and the TV movies The Marva Collins Story (1981) and the Atlanta Child Murders (1985). I don’t think I really knew that he was MORGAN FREEMAN, though, until I saw a trio of 1989 films, all in the theater: Lean on Me, where he played principal Joe Clark who shook up an inner city school district; Driving Miss Daisy, where he was a chauffeur to a white woman while attempting to demand his dignity; and Glory, in which he helped lead the Civil War’s first all-black volunteer unit, while dealing with prejudice. All strong performances, though I didn’t love Miss Daisy, for whatever reason.
I barely remember Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) at all, but was totally captivated by Unforgiven (1992) and the Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Freeman’s performances in them. Since then, I’ve seen Amistad (1997) – good; Deep Impact (1998), as the ineffectual President – eh; and Brice Almighty as God (2003) – enjoyable. I think his voiceover work on March of the Penguins (2005) helped make it the hit it became. There are plenty more I will want to see (Million Dollar Baby, the Batman pictures).
He was also noteworthy for his views about Black History Month. He said: “How are we going to get rid of racism? Stop talking about it!” I wish that were true. I don’t think we know HOW to talk about it without the knives being drawn. And I found his comments somewhat peculiar given the fact that he participated in a DNA study of his racial breakdown.
ABC News, at the time of his 2008 car accident, noted the “dark cloud” over the cast of The Dark Knight: besides Freeman’s incident, the accusation of assault against Christian Bale, and, of course, the death of Heath Ledger. Not sure I believe in that stuff.
Such range. A very fine actor, who turns 75 today.