“Good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning.”
That’s Academy Award Winner – and multiple time nominee – Morgan Freeman getting ready to start a full-day of interviews at the Dolphin Tale press machine. And somehow, I was first on the list.
Usually these studio promotional staples are done in Los Angeles, but since Freeman’s co-star, Winter – a dolphin that resides in Clearwater, Florida – Warner Bros. decided to have the cast & crew trek back over to where they wrapped filming just over a year ago; which then allowed Winter to also field questions from reporters from all over the world. The inspiring true story floats into theaters on September 23d.
The script highlights Winter the dolphin’s true saga about how she was rescued on a Florida gulf coast beach by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium hospital after her tail became caught in a crab trap. Although the basic truths are presented in the film, a few Hollywood storytelling methods are instituted within the script, which shows her remarkable resiliency.
Seeing how Morgan Freeman has had a long, successful acting career, how does the 74 year-old thespian know when a script is worth his time? Does he have to mull it over or does the lightning strike right away…
“No it does (lightning strike). It’s like any good story you read, you know after page fifteen (suggesting/general statement) this is a good one. And yes, if you have a shot at it, you know you want to be in it. There’s quite a few you read and go ‘Oh my god (rolling his eyes and laughing).’ By and large, when you read something, you know early whether or not you like it. So the short answer is yes.”
Just a few minutes into the convo, Freeman projects a vibe of being subtly playful and animated. He knows when to get down to business and when to keep it light when yapping with questionnaires. He went onto say that upon learning that Ashley Judd was going to be a member of the cast, he was already 75% sold prior to reading the Dolphin Tale script that he’d join the production.
In this fam-friendly production, the majority of Freeman’s scenes have him working with young and/or relatively unknown talents (Nathan Gamble, Austin Stowell, etc). Does he get a feeling of where they are with regards to their careers, and if so, does he feel compelled to offer or give any guidance? Or is it best just to let them go…
“(Shaking his head no) Just let them go. I was acting as a child, so you know, you’re an actor – you’re an actor. So do I give them pointers? No. I’m not a teacher. The only pointers I can imagine giving another actor is being the best they can be. That’s all. I’m always asked ‘well if I was asked for advice on something’…No (the answer). What kind of advice would they want?”
In other words, it’s not his place to do so. It’s not that he’s holding out on anyone, he just doesn’t feel that his background and knowledge may not assist for another individual. Everyone’s path is unique folks.
On working with Winter, his matter-of-fact persona came out when discussing his scenes with the dolphin. How close did he get (physically and personally) with his aquatic co-star…
“Close enough.” “We met.”
Living in the small town of Charleston, Mississippi, he enjoys the “room & space” he finds outside of L.A. He seems to have a clearer perspective on things since he is far removed from “the scene.” He also chimed in on what message he took away from Dolphin Tale…
“There is more than one way to get an education.”
Keeping with Dolphin Tale and his career in general, does the guy ever get a feeling while filming that a project may be going the wrong way? Or just the opposite, the right way…
“Not on this movie, but I have done it (had a gut instinct). I have said, ‘Oh Jesus Christ, what the hell am I doing.’ But generally, no. You say ‘okay I like this, I wonder who am I going to be working, oh I get to work with so-n-so and this is going to be great’ and you go to work. You get up every morning and go to the set and you’re happy to be there. Acting is so much fun,” he says with an expression of pride & joy on his face.
But he does know his limitations…
“I don’t think I could do a medical show. Because they have all of those lines that are, you know, give me 20cc’s of hemostabin gloxacobin and you have to spit it out like you went to school.”
Joe: So you’re a believer in don’t say a word you can’t spell?
Morgan: That’s right, (slapping the table and laughing).
“But that’s all really good. I’ve only had maybe two occasions that I can recall that I didn’t want to get up in the morning and not go to work.”
Joe: You want to tell me those or keep’em to yourself?
Morgan: Yeah (smiling).
Joe: Pleasure meeting you.
Morgan: And you. Have a good day. You just got sit around all day doing this?
Morgan: I don’t know which end is worse my end or yours.
Joe: I think they both hurt.
And Morgan let’s out a jovial laugh – Yep, I made ‘God’ crack up.
By Joe Belcastro