Morgan Freeman won the 39th AFI Achievement Award amidst much warmth and affectionate praise. Most of the guests at the event talked warmly about Freeman’s film career, which began at the age of 50. Prior to this he had been a dancer and stage actor for many years. Dame Helen Mirren who co-starred with him in Red (2010) said, “This AARP member has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can kick some ass.”
Sidney Poitier commented, “We grew up with him when he was already grown up. It’s as if he’d been with us through each day of our lives, “ he added, “A character actor and a real character who has become a star…a prince of the craft of acting.”
There is a real chemistry between Freeman and actor director Clint Eastwood. Many of the films they have worked on together won Oscars, making Eastwood to think of him as a lucky charm, and prompted him to consider casting Freeman in every one of his movies, right up to Invictus (2009). “Even Nelson Mandela thought he was Mandela,” joked Eastwood on Freeman’s role in that film. But that comment goes to the heart of the truth. Freeman is just so believable in whatever role he’s playing. Eastwood then kissed him on the cheek and said, “I don’t know if it’s proper to love another Man, but this is as close as I’m going to get to it.” Freeman replied, “Where I come from in Mississippi, this is called walking in high-cotton…I’m proud to be an actor, although for this one night you made me feel a star.”
Director David Fincher reflected on how he had always wanted to cut to Freeman on Seven (1995), because while other people moved around doing unmatchable things, “He was just standing there having more gravity than anyone else within a hundred yards,” Fincher said.
Casey Affleck remembered how he had received a tongue-lashing from Freeman while on the set of Gone Baby Gone (2007). But it was Eastwood who gave the best speech, and which was completely improvised, no teleprompter, like all the others. “Morgan knows a lot. Give him a comfortable atmosphere and he’ll kill it everytime,” said Eastwood. And then there were genuine words of affection from Freeman’s co-star in the movie Amistad (1997), Matthew McConaughey, “I can’t imagine you ever having cotton mouth.”
Contact the Author: MikeStringer@ArtsandEntertainmentPlayground.com