Happy birthday Morgan Freeman! 75 big ones, and counting. A career that’s lasted nearly 50 years! 5 Oscar nominations and 1 win later, here you are sir!
One of the most memorable Morgan Freeman moments here on Shadow And Act was just over a year ago, before we moved over to the indieWIRE Network.
A post that generated fiery debate (some of you S&A old-times will probably remember it) and some 143 comments!
You’re probably wondering what the heck was said in the post that got readers so fired up and chatty?
Well… let’s just revist it shall we… a short journey into the past.
It was soon after Anthony Mackie had had his day in *court*, so to speak, with regards to his “we’re being lazy on our game” reply, when asked in an interview for his thoughts on why there isn’t more African American representation in front of and behind the camera, as well as recognition during awards season.
Boy did that post also ignite more than a few fires, the effects of which are still being discussed today :)
Not-so long after Mackie’s moment last year, Morgan Freeman voiced his own opinions on the lack of representation issue in an interview with BET.
When asked by the interviewer, Ronke Idowu Reeves, for his take on the lack of African-American actors on stage, at last year’s Oscars, Freeman replied…
“I think we need to get over that s–t. How many Chinese do you see? You don’t see them out marching and s–t. Oh God please. I think … We need to get over it, that’s all.“
He didn’t stop there though… When asked if he feels pressure to “represent your people in a certain way in any of your films,” Morgan said…
“I don’t have any “my people.” I never had to deal with that part of my thing. Once, I straightened my hair when I was doing The Electric Company, and this woman comes up to me and says, “You…you… shouldn’t!” And I said, “Hold it. You don’t dictate my image. Get away from me.” And another one said, “But you’re a black man!” And I said, “Oh? Do tell!” After I played the president in Deep Impact, somebody said to me, “How does it feel to play a Black president?” And I was like, “Whoa, whoa. I didn’t play a ‘Black’ president. I played the president.” I don’t have to play Black.“
Sound somewhat familiar to some other black actor’s recent comments? Specifically, Idris Elba’s “the less I talk about being black, the better” comment posted here a couple of days ago, and that’s still racking up the comments.
It also reminds me of Jeffrey Wright’s “there is no black cinema because we have little control” comment that came after Mackie’s and Freeman’s last year. Not quite as incendiary as the others, and it didn’t attract as many comments; but my point is to note this short string of powerful comments made by black actors in the biz, in the last 12 months, that reflect their individual realities and motivations. We often try to impress our wishes on them, but, ya know, they all have their own individual wants, needs, desires. Key word there being “individual.”
But back to Freeman…because still there’s more… When asked in that same BET interview whether he’s ever “shied away from controversial film portrayals of Black men like the pimp in Street Smart or the driver in Driving Miss Daisy,” he replied, as you’d probably guess…
“I’m not shaped by anything at all except if it’s a good story and [has] an interesting character. I don’t have to worry about my image. My image has to do with my work. I’m not John Wayne. I’m an actor. I want to do anything that tells a good meaningful story. The part I play in it is just a part of that story.”
Tough talk overall from Mr Freeman to the rest of us that touches on so many debates we’ve had on this website, regarding the burden of representation, “obligation” on the part of black actors and filmmakers, and more, whether you agree with all he said or not.
He’s 75! He’s at that age when you just stop giving a shit, and say whatever the eff is on your mind.
Happy Birthday Mr Freeman!
Your most memorable Morgan Freeman moments, if you have any; whether on screen, or in real life….?