Morgan Freeman is among the iconic black actors known for his brilliant on-screen performances and distinctive baritone voice. However, in an interview, Freeman revealed that he was “envious” of fellow veteran actor Denzel Washington‘s career.
He shared that Washington, 17 years his junior, is “doing what I wanted to do.” Freeman admired his co-star’s performance, highlighting his ability to captivate the audience. Unlike Washington, Freeman began his career in an era with strict restrictions for on-screen performances for black actors.
Keep on reading to learn more.
‘He’s Doing What I Wanted To Do
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Morgan Freeman, the acclaimed actor known for his roles in movies like “A Good Person” starring alongside Florence Pugh, opened up about feeling envious of fellow actor Denzel Washington, 68.
During his conversation with the news outlet, per Insider, the 85-year-old reflected on his career trajectory and admired Washington’s accomplishments, saying he is “so envious of Denzel’s career because he’s doing what I wanted to do.”
The “Shawshank” star revealed he found Washington admirable as he sees the younger man continuing to take on ambitious projects and work with reputable directors like Steve McQueen and Paul Thomas Anderson, even at the “autumn of life.” Freeman voiced his desire to have pursued similar opportunities.
Morgan Freeman’s Early Career In The Hays Code Era
Washington, who is 17 years younger than Freeman, has had a vastly different experience in acting. Freeman’s early career coincided with the era of the Hays Code in the US. As reported by NPR, the Hays Code policy imposed strict restrictions on the content of major film studios, including a ban on interracial on-screen romance.
This policy lasted almost four decades, from 1934 until 1968. As a result, Freeman’s early acting years had a significant impact, mainly consisting of theater work and a role in the children’s show “The Electric Company.”
It wasn’t until Freeman was 52 years old, won a Golden Globe, and received an Oscar nomination for his iconic role in “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989 that he started getting more ambitious and prominent positions. From that point, his career took an upward trajectory, and Freeman starred in over 100 films, including iconic movies like “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Million Dollar Baby,” and “Bruce Almighty.”
In contrast, Washington’s career took off in an era without the restrictions of the Hays Code. His powerful performance in films like “Glory” and “Training Day” shot him to stardom, cementing his reputation as one of the most respected actors in Hollywood, known for his versatility and range.
Morgan Freeman Acknowledges Progress Made By Black Actors
While Freeman admitted to being a little jealous of Washington’s success, he also acknowledged the significant progress made by Black actors in Hollywood.
Reflecting on his childhood, Freeman shared, “When I was growing up, there was no ‘me’ in the movies. If there was a black man in a movie, he was funny. Until Sidney Poitier came and gave young people like me the idea that, ‘OK, yes, I can do that.'”
Recalling a past conversation with the late Poitier, Freeman shared, “And I spoke with Sidney way back. He said, ‘I wanted to be like you.” The actor continued, “Generationally, though, we’re moving ahead in leaps and bounds… LGBTQ, Asians, black, white, interracial marriages, interracial relationships. All represented. You see them all on screen now, and that is a huge jump.”
Morgan Freeman Calls Denzel Washington An ‘Extraordinary Actor’
Freeman has been a constant pillar of support for his co-star in the 1989 film “Glory.” In 2019, during the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony honoring Washington, Freeman was in attendance and praised Washington’s remarkable talent.
In an interview with Access Hollywood on the red carpet, per Insider, Freeman expressed awe at Washington’s ability to connect with viewers through his performances deeply, stating, “He’s making contact with you.” Freeman lauds Washington as an extraordinary actor, highlighting his unique ability to captivate audiences with his on-screen presence.