Morgan Freeman talks about — what else? — movies at Singletary Center

kward1@herald-leader.comApril 14, 2014 

Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman shared insights into some of his best-loved movies at a fundraising event at the University of Kentucky Monday.

In an interview-style presentation moderated by WKYT-TV's Barbara Bailey, Freeman, 76, discussed several of his movies, from how he ended up playing Nelson Mandela in Invictus to what it was like playing opposite Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List.

Freeman said Mandela himself once said that if his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, were ever made into a movie, he would want Freeman to play him.

While that book did not make it to the big screen, Freeman said the producer who held the rights to it put him in contact with Mandela.

"Over the years, I got to spend a lot of time ... sitting with him, talking with him, holding his hand," Freeman said.

"When the movie is made about Morgan Freeman, who do you want to play Morgan Freeman?" Bailey asked."Morgan Freeman," he promptly responded.

And Freeman told the audience there is one big item on his own bucket list: "I want to get an Academy Award for best picture," he said.

Freeman has received Academy Award nominations for performances in movies including Driving Miss Daisy and Shawshank Redemption. In 2005, he won an Oscar for best-supporting actor in Million Dollar Baby.

After a clip from Shawshank Redemption was played for the audience, Freeman said "The irony is that it didn't do well at all." The reason, he quipped, was that no one could pronounce the name.

"I'd say it was a love story," he said of the film's enduring qualities. "Those two guys really had each other's back for a long time."

The proceeds from A Conversation with Morgan Freeman, which was held at the Singletary Center for the Arts, will benefit the UK College of Dentistry's Drs. Nero and Biggerstaff Diversity Scholarship Fund, which honors Dr. Benjamin Nero, the first black graduate of the College of Dentistry, and Dr. Joseph Biggerstaff, the college's first black faculty member.

Nero, an orthodontist who graduated from UK in 1967, grew up with Freeman in Mississippi and has maintained a lifelong friendship with him.

While introducing Freeman, Nero recalled that "Morgan was always a rather mischievous person. ...He was the one that chased girls around with bugs and worms."

As adults, Nero said they have never lost touch with each other. When one of them has been down, he said, "we've always helped each other out."

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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