Morgan Freeman earned his first Academy Award nomination for his chilling performance as a homicidal pimp in the drama Street Smart, which also brought him the Los Angeles, New York, and National Society of Film Critics Awards for best supporting actor of 1987, as well as an Independent Spirit Award and a Golden Globe nomination. The part of the pimp, Fast Black, was a far cry from his big screen debut as the genial character ‘Afro’ in his film debut, the 1971 children’s adventure Who Says I Can’t Ride a Rainbow, and it signaled the film world that one of its most versatile stars was on the rise. The 16-year span between those titles saw Freeman range from Shakespeare to an undercover policeman in Eyewitness. The next two decades would see him become one of Hollywood’s true luminaries.
Freeman earned his second Oscar nomination in 1989, this time as Best Actor, recreating his award-winning Broadway role in Driving Miss Daisy. He garnered his third Academy Award nomination in the critically praised 1994 hit The Shawshank Redemption. His fourth nomination for Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby won him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2005.
The Memphis-born actor began his career on New York stages in the early 1960s, following a stint as a mechanic in the Air Force. A decade later, he became a nationally known television personality when he created the popular character ‘Easy Reader’ on the popular children’s show, The Electric Company.
Throughout the 1970s, he continued his work on stage, winning the Drama Desk Award, the Clarence Derwent Award and receiving a Tony Award Nomination for his outstanding performance in The Mighty Gents in 1978. He also won an Obie Award for his portrayal of Shakespearean anti-hero, Coriolanus, at the New York Shakespeare Festival.
In 1984, Morgan won another Obie for his role as ‘The Messenger’ in the acclaimed production of Gospel at Colonus. He won the Dramalogue Award for the same role the following year.
The part of ‘Hoke Coleburn’ in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Driving Miss Daisy brought him his third Obie Award. He has since appeared in The Taming of the Shrew at the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Delacorte Theater, the Broadway production of The Country Girl and Dustin Lance Black’s 8.
In 1993, Freeman made his film directorial debut with Bopha!, and soon after formed Revelations Entertainment, a production company developing entertainment product in all existing and emerging media that “enlightens, inspires and glorifies the human experience.” Their most recent production was
The Magic of Belle Isle.
His other early film acting credits include Brubaker, Teachers, Clean & Sober, Glory, Chain Reaction, Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, High Crimes, The Sum of All Fears, Dreamcatcher, Se7en and The Big Bounce.
Other recent films include the narration on the Academy Award-winning documentary March of The Penguins and starring roles Evan Almighty, Gone Baby Gone, The Dark Knight trilogy, Invictus, Now You See Me, The Lego Movie, Lucy and Las Vegas.