Morgan Freeman

  1. Wally Taylor, Rocky III,   1981. Allegedly, 1,200 guys auditioned for world champion wannabe Clubber Lang. Just two for his manager: Freeman, at age 44 (impossible!) and Illinois’ Taylor
  2. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, 1989.
  3. Forest Whitaker, Diary of a Hitman, 1991.  Too busy in Sherwood Forest with Kevin Costner.  “An absolute gentleman,” was how   Brian Cox described  Freeman in his 2021 memoir, Putting the Rabbit into the Hat –  “the Morgan Freeman you would hope to meet.”
  4. Liam Neeson,  Star Wars – Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, 1997.
  5. Samuel L Jackson, Le violon rouge/The Red Violin, Austria-Canada-Italy-US-UK Austria, 1997.    Change of Charles Moritz, musical instruments expert, from the busy Freeman to the busier Jackson –  evaluating the titular violin, which  changed hands (and countries) across three centuries.
  6. Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, 1999.
  7. Will Smith, The Legend Of Bagger Vance, 1999.   Bagger is a mysterious caddy who saves a golden golfer who lost his swing in WWI. Director Robert Redford knew the game. He’d started playing when a Bel Air Club caddy… in 1948!  He even thought of starring a second time in a film he directed. He switched to Hollywood golf stars – Connery and Jack Nicholson. Way too old!  OK, Morgan Freeman saving Brad Pitt? Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks company came aboard, suggesting Matt Damon and Will Smith. Chicago critic Roger
  8. Richard Dreyfuss, The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, Holland-France-Spain-Australia, 2001.     Dutch director Rolf de Heer always thought  of Freeman. But he was one of the busiest of Hollywood names. Not Dreyfuss.  Not anymore.  
  9. Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby, 2004.
  10. Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, 2013.      Some wise guy once asked Harvey Weinstein if he “picked up Mandela because Mandela was dying?”  Hah! The exec producer had been involved with the project since 1999. First with Denzel Washington, then Freeman.  Neither actor was suitable,  even though  Freeman played him in his pal Clint Eastwood’s  Invictus, 2009.  Elba was far better, particularly in shape, and above all, voice. 

  11. Anthony Hopkins, Solace, 2013.  Once upon a time, New Line Cinema wanted a Se7en sequel called Ei8htand started hunting for a script that could be, er, adjusted to suit their desire.  Morgan Freeman would return as Detective William Somerset – now a psychic in his retirement and investigating a psychic serial killer.  Se7en director David Fincher made his displeasure known. Freeman, too. And his psychic-chasing psychic became Bruce Willis. For a nano-second or five.  As things panned out, including a two years in the Warner Bros script vaults, Ei8ht was resurrected as Solace with Anthony Hopkins hunting Colin Farrell who was more  into mercy-killing the incurably ill than actual murder but by which time nobody gave much of a hoot.
  12. Tilda Swinton, Doctor Strange, 2015.       Freeman, Bill Nighy and Ken Wantanbe were in the Marvel mix for the Ancient One – the usual old guy cliche in the comics. But the name was a  title rather than a person, argued director Scott Derrickson – deciding on  a (great) female to help Stephen Strange become Sorcerer Supreme.  (Nighy opposite Benedict Cumberbatch would have been… magic!).
  13. Vincent D’Onofrio, The Magnificent Seven, 2016.      Toting diversity as well a six-guns, director Antoine Fuqua’s  guys guys were no match for the celebrated originals they were desecrating.  No wonder  Christian Bale, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Wagner Moura, Brad Pitt also rode away from the re-hash. Two more flew to Marvel: Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange, Jason Momoa as Aquaman.Antoine Fuqua directing meant Denzel Washington would lead the liberators. But minus Freeman as his tracker, Jack Horne. Body count was so absurdly high that it should have been named after the guy playing Josiah.  Billy Slaughter.

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  13