You’ve seen Morgan Freeman’s name in the credits of MTV reality shows like “Laguna Beach” and “16 and Pregnant” and done a double-take. No, it’s not the Morgan Freeman in The Bucket List or The Shawshank Redemption, but Morgan J. Freeman, the Sundance award-winning director and producer (Hurricane Streets). After years of producing credits, Freeman is once again returning to his directorial roots with the new thriller, Homecoming, which hits theaters July 17th.
In an interview with MM, Freeman talks about his past, present and future career choices in the moviemaking and TV businesses.
Katie Garton (MM): How did it feel to come back to the director’s chair after three years?
Morgan J. Freeman (MF): Felt awesome! Directing a movie is privilege and I’m always grateful for the opportunity. I really loved this script, so I was thrilled (no pun intended) when the producers offered me the gig.
MM: What were some of the inspirations for the film? Some of the scenes of Shelby’s brutality remind me of the hostage scenes in Misery.
MF: Yes, Misery was the major inspiration. The project was conceived as a teen twist on the classic thriller for a new audience. What Swimfan was to Fatal Attraction, Homecoming is to Misery.
MM: I’ve noticed a trend of crime, horror, murder and road trips in your movies. Coincidence?
MF: Hmmmm… I do gravitate toward moral conundrums… In my personal screenplays, I explore questions such as “When is it more right to be wrong?” or “When is it more innocent to be guilty?” I do like characters who take the law into their own hands, but with Homecoming, which was a commissioned gig, I dug the thriller aspect of the script but don’t endorse Shelby’s behaviors!
MM: You’ve done everything from write, direct and produce a Sundance-winning film to produce reality programming. What is it that attracts you to a project? As a writer? Director? Producer?
MF: Well, I love writing and directing my personal projects, but in between I needed to find a way to pay the bills. I sorta fell into reality TV when a buddy of mine from MTV hooked me up with an interview for a new show they were developing. The show ended up being “Laguna Beach” and I was lucky enough to be part of the first season. I had no idea the show would be such a cultural phenomenon and open the door to producing all sorts of cool projects. I’m very grateful.
MM: You are also working on The Cold, to be released in 2010. What can you tell us about this movie? Do you expect that that will be your next project?
MF: We are eying this winter to shoot The Cold. It’s a psychological thriller set in the woods when a hunting trip goes awry; the hunters become the hunted. Think The Deer Hunter meets Deliverance with a twist of Predator. But for now, my day job is “16 and Pregnant,” currently airing on MTV Thursdays at 10 p.m.
Homecoming stars Mischa Barton, Jessica Stroup and Matt Long. Visit http://homecoming-movie.com for more information.