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Morgan Freeman’s Lifetime Achievement

Hey, guys, I just wanted to let you know I recently spent one afternoon watching “Invictus” with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela.

I had just learned that Freeman was awarded the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award and that got me to finally view the 2009 movie which garnered him Oscar and Golden Globe award nominations. He won a supporting actor Oscar for “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004, which I must admit I haven’t seen.

I had last seen him opposite Jack Nicholson in 2007’s “The Bucket List,” about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. It was one of my favorite performances of his and Jack’s. I must say this film was the type of film that made me want to study film as an actor-two great actors facing huge challenges with humor and panache.

I didn’t know much about Mandela prior to viewing the picture, but I have since found out that he was in prison for 27 years in apartheid South Africa before being released and leading his party, the African National Congress as the first black president of South Africa.

Before researching this, I didn’t even know what the word “apartheid” meant. It’s pretty synonymous with segregation in this country, only maybe even worse.

The film was a great history lesson for me and I must admit I was not a very good history student in school. But better late than never.

The reason I’m writing this to you guys is because I think Morgan Freeman is one of the most outstanding actors working today.

I first saw him in “Driving Miss Daisy” which was also a history lesson in black and white race relations in our country.

I later saw him in “The Shawshank Redemption” where his best friend in prison is the white Tim Robbins. I was totally blown away by his performance as a prisoner who spent so much of his life behind bars he didn’t know what to do with himself once freed. He finally finds freedom in reuniting with his prison comrade Robbins.

The AFI President pretty well sums up why I love Freeman as an actor:
"Morgan Freeman is an American treasure," Sir Howard Stringer, Chair of the AFI Board of Trustees, said in a statement.
"Across decades, whether playing a prisoner, a president or God, he embodies a calm authority that demands respect for the character and for the art form. His gifts to the cultural record are also underscored by his unmistakable voice that echoes through the hearts and minds of movie lovers around the world."

What I like about Freeman is that even though he has risen to great heights as an actor, he still comes across as a regular guy.

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site