Morgan Freeman Defies Labels

At 68, He's A Dynamic Presence From Hollywood To Clarksdale


A late bloomer, Freeman began his professional career in theater when he was 27. By age 34, he was the "Easy Reader" on TV's "The Electric Company" kids' show.

Thirty-three years, 41 films and four Oscar nominations later came his first Academy Award win last year, for his performance with Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood in "Million Dollar Baby."

How does he approach a role?

"Yeah, how do you get there? My approach to acting is that I am totally intuitive. I read the script and I get it. If I don't get it, I can't do it. Those are the ones I say, 'I don't think this is the role for me.' They'll be 'But, oh, no you don't want to…' I know."

Freeman says he was drawn to acting by birth. "I was born to do it."

He says he realized his calling around the age of 12, going to movies and saying to himself, "I can do that."

"I can. Yeah. I had teachers tell me, 'You're magic, you're good. You found your calling,'" Freeman remembers.

Freeman heard that calling in northeastern Mississippi, the birthplace of the blues, but a region that recently escaped the wrath of Hurricane Katrina.

This is where Freeman grew up for the most part and still makes his home, living near his childhood roots and miles from the nearest stoplight, albeit in a movie star's mansion.

He and his wife Myrna share 120 acres with their horses. Down the road in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Freeman co-owns a restaurant and a blues club.

Between his movie shoots, he is a regular in Clarksdale, often cutting up with tourists and cutting the rug with locals in his club.

He and his business partner Bill Luckett have been bankrolling the blues club and the restaurant at a loss for almost five years now. His business interests here are labors of Freeman's love for his native Mississippi Delta.

But Mississippi's history of racial conflict bothers him even to this day. Forgive, he says, but never forget.

For one, he thinks the Mississippi state flag, with its confederate emblem, should be changed.

"That flag has always represented, number one, treason and, number two, a separation of white people from Jews, niggers and homosexuals. And you can't change that. You can't tell me I'm never going to be able to look at that flag and think, 'Ah, it's my heritage, my, you know...' Never," says Freeman.