The Magic of Belle Isle reunites Morgan Freeman with his Bucket List director, Rob Reiner. Freeman plays Monte Wildhorn, a retired, wheelchair bound author who takes a summer housesitting/dogsitting job to be left alone. While there, the local children hound him about storytelling and imagination, sort of giving him a new purpose. We got to ask Freeman several questions in a roundtable interview, so first we present our mini-interview, which is fun because Freeman can be a little feisty, and then the rest of the wisdom Freeman shared with the group.
CraveOnline: What were the scenes that were fun to play in this movie?
Morgan Freeman: Every single one. Except maybe a few with the dog. Sometimes the dog was not as cooperative as you would like for him to be.
Why are stories about storytelling important?
There’s a rich history of stories about storytellers, and that’s a huge part of Monte.
What is outstanding about this film in terms of storytelling is that it reminds us. It’s just a reminder that imagination is a really important ingredient in life. And, if you’re going to be a storyteller, it’s of ultimate importance. That’s the best I can do in terms of answering that one.
We'll see you again this summer in The Dark Knight Rises. How do you feel about the conclusion of your time with Batman?
I feel fine. I know it's a conclusion and I'm alright with that. It was a great stroke of fortune to be hired to play the role, and that he continued to write that character in, the more positive it is for me. It's just great good fortune. If it's ending now and it is ending now, that's cool.
Does it feel like one big movie for you?
No. Not at all. You have to go three different times, three different locations. It's the same people pretty much except the bad guys always change.
Has Tyler Perry reached out to you about the new Alex Cross he's doing?
Why would he reach out to me? No.
Some of us were hoping to see at least one more with you. What were your thoughts about that series changing hands?
That's wonderful of you to say, but I don't have any thoughts about it at all. I'm like you, very curious about the outcome, but other than that, I don't have any thoughts about it really.
Morgan Freeman on the imagination of theater.
Listen, you can make anything into a play for the simple reason that the human mind is one of the best writers in the business. So, if you’ve got a writer who’s clever enough to give you enough clues, you will fill out every blank spot in a play, every single one. I did a play off Broadway where I’m very often driving a car and there is nothing that even indicated car except me and the passenger. So what do you think the audience did? They put a car around us. There’s all kind of things. I saw Lion King. How clever! How easily she [Julie Taymor] put me completely on the South African plain, on the Serengeti Plain, with lions and cheetahs and hyenas and a wildebeest stampede and pulled it off on stage.
Morgan Freeman’s favorite performances.
I’m not that kind of actor. Done is done. I walk away. I mean, I’ve just never been the kind of actor that things have stayed with. I’ve never needed to carry a character off stage. I did Othello once and that doesn’t resonate at all. It was my worst experience on stage ever. In Dallas, Texas in 1983. If you don’t believe yourself, forget about trying to convince anybody else about your character, and I didn’t believe myself once. So, if you ever hear of someone looking for an Othello, count me out.
Morgan Freeman on his blackberry.
And, I have an iPad. I do. I don’t have much on there. I don’t do much with it, but it’s a great calendar.
Morgan Freeman’s first on-screen romance.
Even through my good-looking youth, I wasn’t called on for any romantic parts, which is okay. What I was called on to do, I enjoyed doing. The funny thing about life is that if you live long enough, I think, you’ll get every wish you ever had. It’ll all come true.
Comparing the wheelchair to his own 2008 automobile accident.
See, my fingers don’t work. So I don’t use this [left] arm to do much with because I don’t have any feeling back here. I’m always afraid that if I try too hard, I’m going to damage it, more even than was done. I’m very protective of it. Playing this character who is paralyzed on this side of his body was very easy. All I had to do was just relax this hand more and try not to let my arm do the things that it would normally do. Sometimes you’re talking and oops, nevermind.
Morgan on fatherhood and movie kids.
I’m always asked that question and I don’t know if there is a correlation there really. We’re acting. We’re pretending. There’s no real basis in reality. They still come off pretty close to being like television families.
Stop asking Morgan Freeman for autographs at the airport.
I try to avoid it. You know what I mean? If I stay at home, I’m not famous. I’m only famous when I’m out in the streets, so I don’t go out on the streets much. Then I have to deal with being famous. Sometimes I have to tell people I don’t do autographs, thank you very much. At certain places, I refuse to have my photograph taken. Don’t point a camera at me at an airport, bus station, train station, restaurant, any place where there’s a crowd of people. It’s like there’s nobody here but me at this very second. Wait a minute. It always happens. I don’t care where you are or what you’re doing.
But if you’re a d*ck, Morgan Freeman will still be gracious.
Well, I try to be. I know people are saying they like you. I’m not being insulted or pushed around or anything. People are coming up because they like me. Nevertheless, I can’t be everybody’s [friend.] None of us can. I hate saying no to people. “Would you sign this?” “No, I’m sorry. I won’t.”
Using fame for a good cause.
Yeah, if you get called on to help somebody pull focus to some good cause, that’s good use of your fame. I don’t try to avoid that. As a matter of fact, I’m going to Destin, Florida. I’m leaving tonight to take part in a golf fundraiser. This is for the kids of military. A lot of these children are suffering. Either their family is not doing well because they don’t make a lot of money or somebody’s been wounded. Anyway, the kid is having a rough time of it and these people started a fund to help relieve their problems.
Morgan Freeman’s golf handicap.
I’m not that good really, but the fact that I can even hit the ball with one hand intimidates a lot of people.
I’m coming back here on the 29th of July just to take part in the fundraiser for Oceana, which I think is one of the most important undertakings that we have today. If we don’t save the oceans, if we don’t do something about what we’re doing to the oceans, as well as the planet at large, we’re going to be really sorry.
Home in Mississippi.
It’s home. That’s where I grew up. I was only born in Tennessee. I grew up in Mississippi. Most of my formative years were in Mississippi. I graduated from high school in Mississippi. I have a nice home. It’s really an oasis. It’s paradise.
Relationships with directors like Reiner and Clint Eastwood.
Rob's a teddy bear. He's hell delicious. He's a really good director. He's very quick which I really, really like. He's just a great person. He's a great soul. In the movie business, I would call him a movie mom. The only person I hold in equal esteem is Clint Eastwood. Now I have worked with a lot of terrific directors, and I don't mean to be putting any of them below their own station, but these two I relish working with them.