Wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the words “I AM” and a compression glove on his left hand – he was seriously injured in a Mississippi car crash in 2008 – Morgan Freeman waxed poetic today at the Producers Guild of America’s eighth annual Produced By Conference, held at Sony Pictures, about success, rejection and his longtime Revelations Entertainment producing partner Lori McCreary.
The actor, who on a panel with McCreary called her “the boss” and joked about her having a “dress cut up to here” – miming a short dress – when they first met 25 years ago, later became nostalgic recalling his favorite film produced by Revelations, the 2009 Clint Eastwood directed sports drama Invictus, in which Freeman received an Oscar nomination for playing Nelson Mandela.
“It’s one of my diamond encrusted moments in life,” Freeman said. “My favorite director directed the film, Clint. I had the most fun playing Nelson Mandela than I ever had working on film, and I really really love what I do. When we shot the last frame, all the actors, everyone on set said, ‘Let’s do it again.’”
Freeman pointed out that Eastwood, who also directed Freeman in 2004’s Oscar winning Million Dollar Baby, at first “could not sell that project to Warner Bros,” even right after the release of Eastwood’s 2003 film Mystic River. So too has it been a challenge to get studio interest in two particular projects Revelations has been “shepherding along” for 20 years.
“Nothing good comes easy in this business. If it comes easy, be suspect,” said Freeman, to loud applause.
Moderator Mark Gordon, CEO of The Mark Gordon Company, joked throughout the panel, at one point declaring, “Morgan and I both like to sit down when we pee!”
Freeman turned serious talking about his injured hand, which he said experiences severe pain that “comes on like a spasm.”
“The only time my hand doesn’t hurt is between ‘action’ and ‘cut,’” he said.
As Freeman and McCreary put it during the discussion, the name Revelations, which has a range of film and television projects including CBS’ Madam Secretary, stems from a need to tell stories that haven’t been told. McCreary said Freeman originally wanted to call the company Genesis.
“I grew up a movie movie movie fan. No black people in these movies! No Asian people,” said Freeman. He wanted films produced by Revelations “to be revelatory” and “reveal some truths,” he said.
Freeman also expressed fear about overextending himself by potentially taking on too much work, and too many projects. “You push the snowball, you push the snowball, and now it’s at the top of the hill,” and then you can’t control the slide down, he said. “The next thing you know, you’ve outgrown yourself.”