The Man, the Myth, the God: Morgan Freeman

If there is one way to describe Morgan Freeman, it’s an absolute legend. He is one of those actors who is always a delight to watch on screen, on stage, or performing one of his many narrations. His smooth, soothing voice is definitely one of the most recognizable voices in the industry. We’d recognize it anywhere!

Morgan Freeman / Morgan Freeman / Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman / Morgan Freeman, Jim Carrey.
Source: Getty Images

Freeman has been in Hollywood for decades and continues to add new, dynamic roles to his already impressive resume. Freeman has that earnest, calm, cool demeanor combined with that boyish comedic style underneath. Everyone loves Morgan Freeman, but there may be a few things you don’t know about the iconic actor.

The Man, the Myth, the Legend

So, who exactly is Morgan Freeman? What does an ordinary day look like for the movie star, you know, when he’s not acting? We looked into Morgan Freeman’s life in order to give you the best facts and stories about who this talented man really is.

A portrait of Morgan Freeman.
Photo by Francois G. Durand/WireImage/Getty Images

Whether it’s the enormous effect he had on Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole, or his off-screen kindness, generosity, and contributions to society, we know you’re intrigued about Morgan Freeman.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

If He Wasn’t an Actor…

It’s hard to imagine Morgan Freeman doing anything other than grace our screens with his presence. However, Freeman didn’t always plan on becoming an actor. His real childhood dream career was to be a fighter pilot.

A dated picture of Morgan Freeman in a U.S. military uniform.
Source: Pinterest

At one point, Freeman worked as a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force to get some experience in the field. But as soon as his acting career took off, he focused on that instead. Freeman has gotten his pilot’s license more recently, so now he can fix and fly planes.

Trademarked

It’s not uncommon for celebrities to trademark titles, phrases, or even their name. Well, Morgan Freeman is fond of his name, and in 2005, he earned the rights to have the internet domain morganfreeman.com.

Morgan Freeman attends an event.
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Then, on September 19, 2006, the actor officially received the trademark for the name Morgan Freeman from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. That sounds very formal. Either way, don’t go around trying to sell Morgan Freeman merch, because legally you can’t use his name to make money (or other forms of personal gain).

Club/Restaurant Owner

Morgan Freeman is a lot of things: actor, pilot, and also a proud club/restaurant owner. He co-owns Ground Zero, an authentic Mississippi blues club. It actually got its name because it basically became the “ground zero” of blues aficionados.

A picture of Morgan Freeman in his Mississippi club.
Photo by James Patterson/Getty Images

In 2005, it made the list of the top 100 bars and nightclubs in America. It also gained a crazy amount of media attention, appearing on 60 Minutes, CNN, The Travel Channel, The Food Network, and more. If you ever stop in, you may even notice a menu item called the Potato à la Morgan.

He Wanted to Pay for an Integrated Prom

In 1997, the actor offered to pay for Charleston High School’s prom night, as long as the Mississippi school district agreed to integrate it. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t happy about a segregated event. There is actually a documentary that was filmed about Freeman’s efforts; it is entitled Prom Night in Mississippi.

Morgan Freeman talks to students in school / A Mississippi prom couple.
Source: YouTube

Shockingly, the high school turned down Freeman’s offer….until 2008, that is. That’s when they finally allowed students of all races to attend the same prom. It was also the first racially integrated prom in Charleston, Mississippi. This is insane, considering this all happened in the ‘90s!

Not a Fan of Black History Month

Freeman is a clever guy with complex thoughts and beliefs. One of these opinions is that he’d like to get rid of Black History Month. During an interview with 60 Minutes, the actor said that he feels that Black History Month is “ridiculous.”

Amanda Gorman and Morgan Freeman speak onstage.
Photo by Allen Berezovsky/FilmMagic/Getty Images

He explained, “You’re going to relegate my history to a month? I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.” Well, he certainly has a point. He went on to say that the only way to get rid of racism is to “stop talking about it.” I can’t argue with that either.

He Cares About the Bees

Freeman decided to turn his huge plot of land in Mississippi into a paradise for bees after he found out that that bees might become endangered or extinct. He hosts over 26 beehives on his 124-acre farm. Freeman explained:

A screengrab of Morgan Freeman.
Source: Getty Images

“There’s a concerted effort to bring bees back onto the planet… we do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation… I have so many flowering things, and I have a gardener too. Because she takes care of the bees too, all she does is figure out, ‘OK, what would they like to have?’, so we’ve got acres and acres of clover, we’re planting this stuff like lavender. I’ve got like, maybe 140 magnolia trees, big blossoms.”

Saving Money for the Movies

As a little kid growing up in a low-income household, the movie theater was never a guaranteed weekend activity. However, a young, clever Morgan Freeman always scraped together his spare change and put it aside so that he could keep up with the latest movie releases.

A portrait of Morgan Freeman.
Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage/Getty Images

This determination led to Morgan Freeman’s early respect and appreciation for on-screen legends like Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, and Gary Cooper. Little did he know that years later, he would become an iconic actor himself and would inspire others in his own movies.

He Needed a Nap

While he was promoting the 2013 movie Now You See Me, Freeman did a segment with Fox News. But the actor took a little nap while Michael Caine was talking about the film. With such a busy schedule, it’s not surprising that he fell asleep.

A still from the interview.
Source: YouTube

But he later responded: “Regarding my recent interview, I wasn’t actually sleeping. I’m a beta tester for Google Eyelids, and I am merely taking the opportunity to update my Facebook page.” At least he found the humor in the situation and could joke about it.

He Is Fluent in French

As we mentioned, Morgan Freeman is a very clever and talented man. He is basically a jack of all trades. On top of all his other impressive accomplishments, Morgan Freeman is bilingual and learned how to speak French from a very early age.

A photo of Morgan Freeman on stage.
Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

When he got older, Morgan Freeman continued to study French at the University of California, Los Angeles. Still, the actor confessed that he prefers speaking to the French-language media in English, “otherwise there would be too many silences while I search for the right word,” he said. Too bad. It would be so cool to hear that iconic voice in another language.

He Had to Join the Drama Club as Punishment

I don’t know about you, but when I got punished as a middle school student, I would get lunch detention, after school detention, suspension, or worst of all, I wasn’t allowed to play in my middle school basketball teams… but that was only if I got in a lot of trouble.

A picture of Morgan Freeman making a funny gesture.
Photo by Eric Robert/Sygma/Getty Images

Well, if it wasn’t for Freeman’s junior high punishment, he may not have ended up in Hollywood. After he pulled a prank on one of his classmates, Morgan was sentenced to join the school drama competition. They thought it would be torture, but he enjoyed it. The teachers were surprised by his natural acting chops.

The Academy Loves Him

The actor lent his soothing voice to two documentaries that ended up winning Academy Awards. Morgan Freeman won an Oscar for both The Long Way Home and March of the Penguins.

Morgan Freeman attends The Academy Awards.
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On top of that, he’s been nominated for quite a few categories at the annual Academy Awards for his performances in Street Smart (1987), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Million Dollar Baby (2004), and Invictus (2009). If that wasn’t enough, he won best supporting actor for Million Dollar Baby in 2005.

Where Does Morgan Freeman Live?

If you didn’t realize, Morgan Freeman has a special place in his heart for his home state, Mississippi. He has immense pride for the state and even moved out of Hollywood to settle in Mississippi.

A picture of Freeman with one of his horses.
Photo by Jim Herrington

He said, “The big question was, ‘My Lord, you can live anywhere in the world you want, why did you choose Mississippi?’ My glib answer was because I can live anywhere. But the true answer is that of any place I’ve ever been, this feels most like home. When I come here, when I hit Mississippi, everything is right.”

Where Is Morgan Freeman From?

Morgan Freeman was born to a barber named Morgan Porterfield Freeman, Sr., and a schoolteacher named Mayme Adna. His parents didn’t have a lot of money, so he was raised in a low-income household. Because of their financial difficulties, Morgan was actually separated from his parents for the first years of his life.

Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption / Freeman in Unforgiven / Freeman in The Dark Knight. Rises.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com

His parents went to Chicago to look for work, and Freeman stayed behind to live with his maternal grandmother. When he was six years old, Freeman’s grandmother passed away, and the future star joined his mother in Chicago.

He Won One of the Most Prestigious Hollywood Awards

In 2012, Morgan Freeman won one of the most prestigious awards in Hollywood. At the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards, the acclaimed actor was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award.

Rita Moreno presents Morgan Freeman with the Life Achievement Award.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

This esteemed award has been around since 1952 and is issued by the Hollywood Foreign Press to acknowledge a remarkable body of work spanning decades. Not many people have enough talent or longevity to bring this trophy home. Other superstar recipients include Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, and Martin Scorsese.

That “Boxing Coach” Vibe

Actors get the chance to play all types of characters, so it’s not uncommon for someone to portray a boxing coach once or twice in their careers. What’s less common is playing a boxing coach in three separate movies that have no connection to each other.

A still of Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: Warner Bros.

Of course, the actor who managed to pull that off is Morgan Freeman. He played a boxing coach in The Power of One, Kiss the Girls, and Million Dollar Baby. He also played God twice. But to be fair, Evan Almighty is s sequel and spin-off of Bruce Almighty.

PLANIT NOW

Morgan Freeman is no stranger to philanthropy. He always tries to give back and help out whenever he can. Standing up for what you believe in is a beautiful trait and Morgan Freeman certainly has it. That’s why it should come as no surprise that the actor helped fund a charity of his own.

A picture of Florida coast after hurricane Ivan.
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In 2004, Freeman helped open the Granada Relief Fund to aid the people affected by Hurricane Ivan in Granada. Since then, the organization has evolved into PLANIT NOW. This cleverly named foundation is used to “provide preparedness resources for people living in areas afflicted by hurricanes and severe storms.”

His Diverse Film Roles

Even though he earned his first Academy Award nomination for portraying a volatile pimp in Street Smart, Morgan Freeman is much better known for playing the good guy. He explained that he chooses his roles based on how interesting the project is and how it will advance his acting career:

Freeman in a still from the film “Moll Flanders.”
Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

“I like being eclectic; the more varied, the better; the wider the range,” he said. “I’ve been sucked into a kind of mold of a good guy, and that’s actually almost beyond my ability to control. But other than that, a good story and an interesting character is all I am looking for.”

Success Doesn’t Equal Stardom

You may assume that an actor thinks success is achieving Hollywood stardom, but that’s not how Morgan Freeman sees it. The star believes that any actor working consistently in the industry is a true sign of success, regardless of their level of fame.

Morgan Freeman attends an event.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“As you work, you realize that stardom is really not what you want. You want steadiness,” he expressed to the Associated Press. “Steady work is better than stardom. And for a character actor, stardom is anathema because once you become a star, it becomes you.”

When Did Morgan Freeman Start Acting?

In the mid-1950s, when Freeman was a student at Los Angeles City College, he landed his first theatrical role in Hello, Dolly! Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, he was primarily a stage actor and earned a Tony Nomination for his amazing 1978 performance as Zeke in The Mighty Gents.

Morgan Freeman and his castmates on “The Electric Company.”
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: Children’s Television Workshop

His first Oscar nomination came in 1987 for Best Supporting Actor in Street Smart. He has been nominated for countless awards since then and took home a whopping five Academy Award trophies. That’s without factoring in his Golden Globe awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, and multiple other trophies he earned for his hard work and natural talent.

His Varied Taste in Movies

Morgan Freeman has loved films his whole life. As we mentioned, he saved up pennies as a child so that he could go to the movie theater. The young dreamer grew up to become an A-lister and starred in dozens of his own films in a wide array of genres. So, it only makes sense that his taste in movies would be just as varied.

Freeman poses for a studio portrait.
Photo by Eric Robert/Sygma/Getty Images

When he was asked what his five favorite movies are, Freeman listed the following: King Kong (1933), High Noon (1952), Moulin Rouge (2001), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), and Moby Dick (1956).

How Old Is Morgan Freeman?

As a nineties baby, I can’t remember a time when the actor wasn’t on screen. It honestly feels like Morgan Freeman has been around forever, and that’s because he has. Morgan Porterfield Freeman Jr. was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 1, 1937.

A picture of Freeman during an event.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

That makes the youthful, energetic actor 84, but, clearly, he looks at least 20 years younger. Morgan has been acting since he was a youngster, but he really made it as a Hollywood actor in the ‘80s. He hasn’t stopped since and probably never will. Some people are just destined for stardom.

He Published a Cookbook

If Morgan Freeman’s resume wasn’t impressive enough, he can add writer to it. That’s right. Morgan Freeman is the proud author of Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause.

Morgan Freeman poses holding his cookbook.
Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage/Getty Images

As the press release put it, “To raise money in support of the Grenada Relief Fund for victims of 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, Morgan Freeman has solicited a bevy of Hollywood celebrities to adorn this compilation of Caribbean recipes with their familiar images.” Tom Hanks, Tim Robbins, and Katie Couric are just a few of the celebs who submitted recipes.

Is Morgan Freeman Married?

Morgan Freeman walked down the aisle for the first time on October 22, 1967, with Jeanette Adair Bradshaw. Unfortunately, their marriage was over by November 18, 1979. The actor tied the knot again on June 16, 1984. This time, it was to Myrna Colley-Lee. However, they got divorced in September 2010.

Freeman dances with his granddaughter at an after-party.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The actor has four biological children: Alfonso Freeman, Deena Freeman, Saifoulaye Freeman, and Morgana Freeman. The 84-year-old actor is currently single. He and Colley-Lee adopted Freeman’s step-granddaughter from his first marriage, Edena Hines. The couple raised her together.

The Voice of the President

We mentioned that Freeman chooses the movies he’s in and the characters he takes on very carefully. On his lengthy list of achievements, there is one particular role Morgan Freeman didn’t have to think twice about.

A studio portrait of Morgan Freeman.
Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

Morgan Freeman was specifically selected by the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World, FL, to voice President Barack Obama. I didn’t even know that Disney World had a Hall of Presidents, but this sounds like quite the honor. Plus, the video went viral on YouTube, so if I didn’t mention internet sensation yet, here you go.

A Family Tragedy

This one is a little darker. Tragically, the actor lost one of his beloved grandchildren: Edena Hines (the one he raised as his own), in a senseless act of violence. The 33-year-old was found stabbed near her Manhattan apartment.

A picture of Lamar Davenport / Morgan Freeman and Edena Hines during an event.
Source: Pinterest / Photo by Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

Shortly after, Lamar Davenport was arrested in front of her apartment and charged with second-degree murder. After the heartbreaking tragedy, the actor issued this statement about Edena. “The world will never know her artistry and talent and how much she had to offer.”

Agreed With the Baltimore Protests

When Freeman was asked about the 2015 Baltimore protests, he said he completely agreed with the protestors. He explained, “That unrest has nothing to do with terrorism at all, except the terrorism we suffer from the police. Because of the technology – everybody has a smartphone – now we can see what the police are doing.”

An image from the Baltimore protests.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

He added, “We can show the world, look, this is what happened in that situation. So why are so many people dying in police custody? And why are they all Black? And why are all the police killing them white? What is that? The police have always said, ‘I feared for my safety.’ Well, now we know. OK. You feared for your safety while a guy was running away from you, right?”

Another Legendary Actor Could Have Played God

If you thought the role of God was tailor-made for Morgan Freeman, you might want to think again. Although the character of the all-seeing man upstairs fits the perpetually wise actor perfectly, it could have gone to another veteran actor.

Morgan Freeman and Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: Universal Pictures

Yes. You read that correctly; Jack Nicholson almost played God. The triple Oscar-winning star was offered the role first, but he turned it down. I can’t picture it. Whenever I see Jack Nicholson, I imagine Jack from The Shining – a much different type of character.

But Nicholson Was More of a Devil

Nicholson also selects his roles very carefully, and he knew this one wasn’t for him. Nicholson had already portrayed the Devil in 1987’s Witches of Eastwick, but the notoriously mischievous actor wasn’t as interested in playing God.

A picture of Jack Nicholson behind the scenes of Witches of Eastwick.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: Warner Bros.

Once he turned it down, the role was open for Freeman to make the character his own. And he did a stellar job. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson – God and the Devil – would coincidentally go on to star in The Bucket List together just a few years later.

Morgan Freeman Was Kind of Scary on Set

Although he portrays God in the movie, Morgan Freeman didn’t exactly take the role of the kind, all-powerful father figure in between takes. Jim Carrey later said in an interview that after a tense shoot, his co-star was “so cool and… kind of scary.”

Jim Carrey talks with the media.
Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Carrey said that when he met Freeman, he said, “Nice to meet you too. Now, never touch me again.” Yikes! But according to Carrey, his co-star was totally just messing around with him. Director Tom Shadyac was another one of Freeman’s victims.

A Real Jokester

“He rakes Tom over the coals something awful through this whole movie – you knew he was joking, but it was still so uncomfortable.” Many actors are nothing like how they come across, so it’s nice to know that Freeman is just as sweet as we thought. Any rude comment is all in good fun.

A picture of Morgan Freeman.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Carrey added that “you walk on screen with [Freeman] and you’ve got to be ready. Be ready, or he’ll burn your soul.” Well, Jimmy. That’s exactly how you should feel when you’re dealing with God!

Does He Believe in God?

Although he got to play the role of God in Bruce Almighty, Morgan Freeman isn’t necessarily a believer himself. On more than one occasion, Freeman expressed his complicated and well-thought-out views on whether God exists.

Morgan Freeman attends an event.
Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic/Getty Images

To the actor, it’s not a simple yes or no answer. He admits that his “belief system doesn’t support a creator as such.” But he had a different answer in 2013 when he was asked if he was agnostic or an atheist. Freeman explained, “I think we invented God. If I believe in God, and I do, it’s because I think I’m God.”

The Philosopher

In that same interview, Freeman was asked if there was a God in the sky, and he responded with: “Has anybody ever seen hard evidence?” I guess that means he doesn’t believe in God. But also, wouldn’t hard evidence disprove God, considering he is not a physical being?

Morgan Freeman speaks onstage during a film festival.
Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images

In 2017, the actor struggled with his beliefs in the documentary series The Story of God. He said that the special “didn’t change anything at all about how I think of God or my belief in God. It just enlightened me to how other cultures do it.”

A Black God Was Controversial

Even though the movie was made fairly recently, a Black actor portraying God was met with backlash at the time. We have certainly come a long way since Bruce Almighty was released in 2003, but Freeman playing God was seen as groundbreaking… and also controversial.

Morgan Freeman as God in Bruce Almighty.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: Universal Pictures

Up until that point, God’s on-screen depiction has always been a white, old man with a long beard. Bruce Almighty destroyed this image. We all know that no actor could have portrayed the character better, so it really shouldn’t matter what color skin he has.

He Was Simply the Best Actor for the Role

Interestingly, the creative team that worked on Bruce Almighty wasn’t trying to smash taboos when they decided to cast Morgan Freeman. He was just the best man for the job and breaking the God stereotype didn’t even cross their mind when they picked the Black A-lister.

A picture of Freeman during an event.
Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images

As screenwriter Steve Oedekerk put it, Freeman was simply the right pick because of his “more personal” deity. “I was personally surprised by the attention this received. For me, this type of casting isn’t as groundbreaking as it is overdue,” Oedekerk stated at the time. Amen to that.

He Worked as a Transcript Clerk

After quitting the air force in 1959, Morgan Freeman arrived in Los Angeles and took a job as a transcript clerk at the Los Angeles City College in order to pay for acting lessons.

A portrait of Morgan Freeman in his Mississippi restaurant.
Photo by James Patterson/Getty Images

Freeman was taking acting classes at Pasadena Playhouse and also took dancing lessons in San Francisco. Like many aspiring actors, he was struggling to cover the bills. He needed to take on odd jobs for a while until he finally made it big. His first paid gig was as a dancer at the World Fair.

The Road to Success

After spending a short time in Los Angeles, Morgan Freeman moved to New York City in the early 1960s. That’s when he landed the job as a dancer in the 1964 Word Fair. He was so excited to have a paid job in showbiz and got a little taste of the life of a performer.

Freeman arrives at an event.
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

After his time in New York City, the actor moved to San Francisco, where he joined the Opera Ring musical theater group. In 1965, just one year after his first job in the industry, Morgan appeared as an extra in the movie The Pawnbroker.

He Didn’t Appear in a Movie Until He Was 34

Although it looked like he was breaking into Hollywood, Morgan Freeman struggled for ten years before he finally got his big break in the 1971 film Who Says I Can’t Ride a Rainbow? After that, it didn’t take long for the charming actor to gain popularity in the American media thanks to the children’s show, The Electric Company.

Morgan Freeman in a still from The Electric Company television show.
Source: YouTube

As a recurring actor on a television show, Freeman realized that the demanding schedules were too grueling for him. The Electric Company was canceled by 1976 – right when his personal life was at a crossroad, and he split up with his wife Jeanette by 1979.

A Rising Star

Although his personal life was going through significant changes, his career was about to take off. Just one year after his divorce, Morgan Freeman landed a role in the movie Brubaker. After that, Freeman was hoping that a steady string of film roles would follow.

A picture of Morgan Freeman and his first wife, Jeanette.
Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Freeman was forced to return back to the small screen. He landed a role in Another World and acted in the soap opera for two years. But his luck finally changed in 1987, when he got the role in Street Smart.

His Big Break Came at Age 52

His career took off after that. Freeman earned his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, thanks to his incredible portrayal of the volatile pimp, Fast Black. Two years later, he got his real big break in the 1989 hit, Driving Miss Daisy; he earned his second Oscar nomination and won a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: Columbia Pictures

That same year, the skyrocketing actor was praised for his role as Sergeant Major Rawlins in Glory. By the time the ‘90s rolled around, Freeman’s career began reaching new heights. He has been in at least 111 movies. Two of his most notable films since are The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).