In an incredibly long and diverse career, Morgan Freeman has played the president of the United States and God as well as a chauffeur and a pimp. In his latest film, "The Big Bounce," he plays a judge who takes a small-time crook under his wing.
Freeman discussed his new movie, which is based on the novel by crime writer Elmore Leonard ("Get Shorty," "Out Of Sight," "Jackie Brown"), on Friday's The Early Show.
"It was a fairly good role to play. It's not like heavy drama that I'm getting to be known for," says Freeman.
The actor says working in Hawaii and acting with a strong cast, including Charlie Sheen, Owen Wilson Vinnie Jones, Sara Forster and Gary Sinise, made making the movie fun.
"The Big Bounce" is just one of many movies Freeman has worked on in his long career. Recently, he received a lifetime achievement award from the National Board of Review for his work, which he says was gratifying.
"Luckily, I looked at it again. It doesn't say life achievement," Freeman says. "It says career achievement, which I can interpret to mean career-to-date achievement.
"I came from Mississippi, a small town in Mississippi. And I grew up in a larger town in Mississippi. But it's a long way from there. And sometimes when these things happen, I kind of travel that road backward one time and [say], 'Gosh, I made it.'"
Freeman says he would like to accomplish more in his life. He is looking forward to producing and telling more diverse stories in Hollywood.
"There's American history that has neglected a lot of Americans," he says. "The country wasn't built by one group of people. It was built by a diverse group of people. And we've left them out. So there's plenty of room to go back and get them and include them. "
About Morgan Freeman
- Born in Memphis, Tenn., on June 1, 1937
- On stage, he showed his versatility as a song-and-dance man playing Rudolph in the Pearl Bailey version of "Hello, Dolly!" and in the title role of "Purlie!" and as a Shakespearean performer in "Coriolanus" for which he won an OBIE Award. Later, he would receive another OBIE for his series of productions on and off Broadway of "Driving Miss Daisy."
- From 1971 through 1976, he got a wider audience working as Easy Reader on the PBS children's show, "The Electric Company."
- Also in 1971, he made his feature debut in "Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow?" Nine years later, he was singled out by critic Pauline Kael for his work in the tough prison drama, "Brubaker."
- In 1987, he received his first Oscar nomination and considerable critical acclaim for his supporting role as the volatile pimp Fast Black in "Street Smart."
- In 1989, he reprised his off-Broadway role as a Southern chauffeur in "Driving Miss Daisy" and received a second Academy Award nomination. The same year, he was recognized for his performance in "Glory."
- In 1991 and 1992, he was cast in roles not initially created as a black character. He was Kevin Costner's sidekick in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and a hard-boiled, no-nonsense foil to recidivist gunslinger Clint Eastwood in "Unforgiven."
- In 1993, Freeman made his feature directorial debut with the story of a black South African policeman and his son divided by apartheid in "Bopha!"
- In 1994, Freeman received his third Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Red, a prison lifer and "fixer" (a person who can acquire anything), in the moving prison drama "The Shawshank Redemption." And the following year, he received praise for his work as a cop tracking a serial killer with novice partner Brad Pitt in "Seven."
- In 1996, he appeared as the mysterious Hibble (a character not in the original novel) in the screen adaptation of "Moll Flanders" and as a enigmatic benefactor of a university's research project in "Chain Reaction."
- In 1997, Freeman portrayed police detective and psychologist Alex Cross in "Kiss the Girls." And he was an abolitionist in Steven Spielberg's "Amistad." The following year, he was cast as the U.S. president coping with an impending meteor crash in Mimi Leder's "Deep Impact."
- In 1999,Freeman added the role of producer to his resume with the based-on-fact TV drama "Mutiny" on NBC.
- In 2000, he and Gene Hackman served double duty as co-producers and co-stars in the cat-and-mouse drama "Under Suspicion." Also in 2000, Freeman portrayed the off-beat role of a hit man who obsesses over the woman he has targeted to kill in "Nurse Betty."
- In 2001, he reprised the role of Alex Cross in the prequel "Along Came a Spider," opposite Monica Potter.
- In 2002, he re-teamed with "Kiss the Girls" co-star Ashley Judd in "High Crimes" and was cast as the CIA director in "The Sum of All Fears."
- In 2003, Freeman offered an over-the-top turn as an obsessed alien-fighting military officer in the supernatural thriller "Dreamcatcher," based on the novel by Stephen King; and was a genial God in the comedy "Bruce Almighty," starring Jim Carrey
- Freeman recently wrapped production on several upcoming films including "Danny The Dog" with Jet Li and "An Unfinished Life" with Jennifer Lopez and Robert Redford.