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Morgan Freeman on Invictus

Published December 10, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Warner Bros.
Everybody loves Morgan Freeman, the wise old sage giving advice and finding serial killers in movies. It turns out even Nelson Mandela was a fan, hand picking Freeman to tell his story. It finally pays off in Invictus, where Freeman shows how Mandela rallied the country behind their rugby team.

Morgan Freeman Talks Invictus

“This started out with Madiba naming me as his heir apparent so to speak,” Freeman said. “When he was asked during the press conference at the publication of his book, Long Walk to Freedom, ‘Mr. Mandela, if your book becomes a movie, who would you like to play you?’ He said, ‘Morgan Freeman.’ So, from then on, it’s like okay so Morgan Freeman is going to be Mandela somewhere down the line. We spent a lot of time, Lori [McCreary] and I, my producing partner at Revelations. We were trying all this time to develop Long Walk to Freedom into a script. Couldn’t happen. Then, in ’06 I believe, we got this book proposal from John Carlin and it was perfect. We bought it. We got a script written. And, this was the role to play to give the world an insight into who Mandela is and how he operates. It was perfect.”

At least Freeman has had a lot of time to prepare. “When he said that he would prefer that I be the one to play him in 1990 or whenever that was, I had to start then preparing myself to do it. So, I met him not long after that and I said to him, ‘If I’m going to play you, I’m going to have to have access to you. I’m going to have to be close enough to hold your hand.’ And, over the years, while we were trying to develop Long Walk to Freedom, that is what happened. Whenever we were in proximity, like a city away for instance, I would know about it and I would go to him and have lunch, have dinner, or sit with him while he’s waiting to go on stage for whatever.”

Invictus Invictus

Now, Freeman’s methods might be a little surprising. He worked less on a philosophy of Meisner or Stanislavski and more by osmosis. “I would sit and hold Madiba’s hand. Now that’s not for camaraderie. I find that if I hold your hand, I get your energy, it transfers, and I have a sense of how you feel. That’s important to me trying to become another person. I have a lot of pressure to bring a character like that to life in any kind of real sense. The danger, of course, is always at caricature, sort of indicating what the person is like. The biggest challenge I had, of course, was to sound like him. Everything else is kind of easy to do: to walk like him, he has a few tics and things that I noticed and I picked those up.”

Beyond that, the role was more of a personal quest than a political one. “I didn’t have any agenda as it were in playing the role other than to bring it as close to reality as I possibly could. The agenda is incorporated in the script and all I had to do was learn my lines.”

Invictus opens to theaters on December 11th.

For the trailer, poster and more movie info, go the Invictus Movie Page.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Warner Bros.

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