Invictus: Interview with Star Morgan Freeman

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Morgan Freeman stars in the role of Nelson Mandela and also serves as an executive producer on "Invictus," also starring Matt Damon and directed by Clint Eastwood. The film is being released December 11 by Warner Bros.

"This is an important story about a world-shaking event that too few people know about," he states. "I cannot think of any moment in history when a nation coalesced so suddenly and so completely. I was proud to have the opportunity to tell this story. And when you have the chance to tell it with Clint Eastwood's abilities…it's something you just have to do."

Freeman remarks, "The entire project was like magnets coming together–right people, right time, right place, right issue. Everything just clicked into place, which doesn't happen very often. But when it does, it's like destiny."

Portraying Nelson Mandela

Long before the production of "Invictus," Morgan Freeman had been chosen for the role of Nelson Mandela by the one person that mattered most. The actor reveals, "Madiba was once asked who he would want to play him in a movie and he said 'Morgan Freeman.' When I first met him years ago, I told him I was honored that he had mentioned me to portray him."

Freeman, who has spent time with Mandela over the years and considers him a friend, says, "That was one of my main concerns–getting his accent and the rhythm of how he talks. I've heard him speak often, and as we got closer to filming I watched some tapes…and then suddenly I had it."

A Changing Country

Freeman notes that he felt a tangible difference in the country from his first visit more than a decade ago. "The first time I went to South Africa, when Mandela was president, there was electricity crackling in the air; there was a feeling of excitement and potential all around. But this time, everything was just moving along–no strain, no pressure–and that was great. It was fabulous to see that what was started then had become the status quo."?

On Eastwood Directing

Freeman, who is very familiar with Eastwood's directing style, attests, "He's quick; if he's got it in one take, he's moving on. I just love that. I also appreciate his quietude, which represents strength and control."