This much I know: Morgan Freeman
The actor, 73, on wearing an earring, being a good sailor, and dreaming big
The Observer, Sunday 17 October 201
Morgan Freeman – actor, director and narrator. Photograph: Colorstorm Media/Eyevine
Everything I’ve ever done for love has been crazy. I got married twice. I love a lot, you know? Love friends, love kids, love women. It means being loved, too.
You walk down the street and people yell your name. That’s how you know you’re famous. That’s what I live for, and I still like it. I just don’t like having no privacy.
Dreams come true, and without a dream, there’s no life. So what you want to instil in your kids (and I’m a great grandfather now) is to dream – and dream big. Make plans for yourself, and then aim yourself in that direction. Because what you want is what you’re gonna get.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That was my parents’ central message. It worked for me.
I’m not looking to do a comedy after a drama or an action movie after a love story – that’s not the way I choose roles. Whatever good comes along is what I do.
I would like to succeed as a producer. The challenge you face – even when you have a track record, even when you are Steven Spielberg – is that every new thing that you set out to do has to ride on its own merits. The rest is meaningless.
I always wanted an earring. It has to do with my attachment to the sea. When I was around 35 I was separated from my wife and she said, “I’m going to pierce your ear.” I’m an avid sailor, a dyed-in-the-wool blue-water man.
You know why sailors used to wear a gold earring? It’s enough money to bury you in a foreign country.
There are two or three tricks to being a good sailor. One is courage. You have to be willing to face the sea. And the rest is just knowledge – you can learn a lot by listening to other sailors about how to survive almost unsurvivable situations.
I’ve been in dangerous storms. There comes a moment when you think you may not get through, and in that moment there’s a peacefulness that settles over you and you’re no longer afraid. That’s also the moment when you have to say, “I’m going to face this demon. I’m going to stand up and I’m going to do what I have to do. Not just by lying down and letting the sea wash over me, but by fighting it.”
After you’ve been in mortal danger, you don’t look at the world differently – you look at yourself differently. The world is just the world – it’s the same, nothing’s changed. But you have a different idea of yourself. You think, I did it. I survived it.
I’m easily tickled. Charlie Chaplin. Jackie Gleason. Peter Sellers – Sellers was a very, very funny man. And I remember the first time I saw Richard Pryor on Johnny Carson’s show. He wasn’t the Richard Pryor we all know and loved; he hadn’t found his voice yet, but once he found it, he was hilarious. That man could make me laugh until I wept.
Waking up every day, that’s as far as I go with thinking about getting older. It’s foolish to think you’re gonna live for ever, but I do think I’m going to live until I die.
Retirement is not part of my lexicon.