Tag Archive: morgan freeman


 

darkknightdetective

In my actor/writer/producer cycle, 2016 has been a writing year.

But not all that long ago, I was asked to come in and read for a Shakespeare play.  I’ve had a monologue from Othello in my utility belt for years; this was the first time as a professional someone asked to see it.

Earned a callback but the part in that production ultimately went to someone else.  I wasn’t remotely upset. Like I said, I’ve been focused on other things this year.  More than that though, just knowing I have my Shakespeare strong enough to book now gives me a lot of confidence for the long term.

(While I’m talking about it, there’s a great piece in the Atlantic this week about what ‘Method acting’ means right now in Hollywood.  I’m a Method guy myself so I don’t agree with all of it.  But I think it’s a fair critique to say for every Heath or Denzel who goes away to learn accents and skills so their characters instincts appear ‘natural’ by the time the audience sees it, there’s a ‘Tropic Thunder’ element that’s been attached to Method acting too.  And there’s no doubt in my mind the most likable and respected actresses we have couldn’t get away with half of the questionable behavior some of the guys get away with and we’d write it off as ‘they’re just so into their craft and their character, you have to take this as part of it.’  Anyway…)

Beyond writing, 2016 has always been designed for me as a year for the detective work.  I’m ‘active’ obviously, but most of my time has been spent doing research.  Who’s working on what? What agencies represents who? Who doesn’t get along with each other? How does my brand fit into all of this? (I’m already sick and tired of that word but, business.)

My Method lets me play several different things well, but some parts just naturally fit better. Starfleet Captain? LAPD Detective? Morgan Freeman? The handsome black professional in an interracial relationship?  I’ve played all these men and played them well.  Crack dealer? Car jacker? The heartthrob who has at least one scene with no shirt on? I…can play these roles too.  But it’s rarely what I project or what people see when I walk into the room. (And just so we’re absolutely clear, I’m cool with a lot of the guys who play these roles, so this isn’t a disrespect thing.  My point is Philip Seymour Hoffman, rest his soul, had a nice long career playing all the parts within his type and Channing Tatum is having a nice long career playing all the different parts that fit his type.  There’s room for all of us.)

I didn’t come into this ‘artform’ thinking that I’d need the analytical part of my mind as much as I do, but…business.  Like most things in this town though, you hang around long enough, you figure out what your place is.

I’ve found mine.

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idris-elba-mandela1

The first thing that struck me as I watched this film is how this man’s life, this man’s real life, would be completely unbelievable if presented as a fictional character.  This adaptation of his autobiography is epic when presenting the African continent, and claustrophobic when showing his Mandela’s decades in prison.  It’s as solid as a film can probably be to try to capture this man’s life.

Idris is solid in the title role; in capturing his entire life, Elba is probably the best suited actor right now to play Mandela as a younger, more sexualized Mandela (no disrespect to Mr. Freeman or Fish). Just my personal opinion, but the real star of the film is Naomie Harris as Winnie.  If you only know her as Moneypenny, this part is a revelation.  The camera loves her, and her character arc is more interesting than the well known mythology of Nelson.  For what it’s worth, combine this with ‘Beasts of No Nation’, and this is the second time lately where Idris is the headliner but his co-star takes the movie. As an actor and a filmmaker, this kind of ‘generosity’ makes me like him even more.

Streaming on Netflix now.  Didn’t do what it was expected to do last awards season, but still worth watching.

glory

You guys can thank W. Kamau Bell for today’s post…

On the last episode of the ‘Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor Ever’ podcast, they finally got around to ‘Glory.’  No one really argues about this film.

I had to go back and look up the clip below though.  I remember the first time I saw this like it was yesterday.  Sitting in class during black history month, I say without trying to be funny that I teared up AND caught the Spirit the first time I saw this scene.

The power of cinema and I love my people and the importance of seeing some version of yourself and people you know I rolled into one.

Enjoy.

‘Gotham’

 

Gotham-TV-2

So here’s the disclaimer, since I haven’t said this publicly in a couple years: whatever DC and/or Warner Brothers do now, I’m OK with it.  The genius Christopher Nolan has already told my story better than I could have possibly imagined.  Now, if I see something that I consider a Schumachery of my franchise, I’ll still call out the necessary parties.  But all Bat related stories now, no expectations.  Just enjoying them for what they are.

Which brings us to the series premiere of ‘Gotham’.  Not much to be spoiled for guys like me (we’ll get to that), but the general conceit here for those that don’t know is telling the origin story from the point of view of Jim Gordon (played by Ben Mckenzie of Southland fame, one of several good casting choices).

So naturally, the story begins where it has to, with the murders of Thomas and Martha Aziz Wayne.  I was given a heads up there were a ton of easter eggs and twists the TV show would take with the core mythology.  Again, I accept this.  But still, from a storytelling point of view, I’m expecting this has at least a 13 episode arc, and they threw a LOT of ‘wink winks’ at the hardcore fans for one episode, pilot or not.  Some of them were really cool (hey, there’s fine ass Renee Montoya; oh, they’re setting THAT up too? Nice!). Some of them felt like ‘I know there’s going to be a ‘villain of the week’, but that could have been anybody and not the father of a future well known Bat Villain. I was really 50/50 on all the nods early on, to the point of distraction: Alfred sounding like he stepped out of a Guy Ritchie film? Meh. The nameless stand up comedian with no self confidence? You know that very well might become…  And on and on.  I’m half surprised we didn’t somehow get roped into a trip to Wayne Enterprises to meet a young Lucius Fox working in that lab.

Wait, no! I take that back!  That part is important down the line, you have to get that casting right.  Has to be a brother old enough to be believable as a friend of Thomas Wayne, but ALSO intellectual and with the gravitas to ALSO be believable as a young Morgan Freeman.  Who could play that?

 IMG_2534_RdyDrker_Small72dpi

(coughing back a smile as I find my notes…)  Where was I?  Oh yes…

Once the pilot settled down in the second half hour and stopped ‘over-introducing’ everybody, THEN it got going.  The relationship between Gordon and Harvey Bullock (Donald Logue here) is always great in the comics, and it looks like it’s going to provide the tension every week here.  And my affection for alumni of the Wire aside, John Doman is already the PERFECT television version of Carmine Falcone.  My sucking up aside, the casting is already off to a great start.

So what’s the official Prince of Gotham opinion?  For the pilot on its own?  I’ll give it a B minus.  Could have been better but not a Schumachery.

Does the Prince of Gotham believe you should give Gotham a chance to see what it grows into?

shaq-3

 

morgan-freeman

My friends over at Dangerbang Productions put out a new skit this weekend, and I thought I’d share it today.

Wait a minute…is that?

No, can’t be?  Can it?  It sounds like…

Hm.

Well, all I know, is WHOEVER that is doing the narration…

He sounds really handsome…

 

 

morgan-freeman

I warned you things would start quickly this year…

From the team that brought you Natalie Portman: the Musical, this year begins with Christian Bale: the Musical!  If you saw the last show, you’ll know the tone and style that we do, if you missed the last one…well, you’re in for a nice surprise, aren’t you?

We open Friday night and run to the 19th, at the Chromolume Theatre, 5429 W. Washington Boulevard, City of Angels.

You can get tickets/make reservations by emailing naileditprod@gmail.com

Come down, and be ready to laugh!

 

cbthemusical

So what’s coming up next?

Well, we’re in rehearsal for another play.  From the group who brought you ‘Natalie Portman’…, we start next year bringing you ‘Christian Bale – the Musical’.  Bad news, this time I’m not Samuel L. Jackson.  Good news, I’m another narrator.  Perhaps, the best known narrator.  His voice, known by millions around the world.  For his slow, southern timber.  Like the voice of God.  He’s actually played God once or twice.

After that tease, I don’t have to tell you who I’m impersonating, now do I?

Get your tickets here:

Christian Bale: the Musical!

 

robertg

So I’m writing again.  Not meaning this, but meaning screenwriting again.  Lot of different reasons, but it’s nice to be working that muscle again.  I’m writing a comedy, but if you’re familiar with my screenplays and films, you know my style is to cut beyond the superficial to tell the story. Same with acting, one skillset feeds the other, more than ever now.  I have to say, while the craft continues to grow, telling the stories I like to tell is harder than it’s ever been.  Digging into certain emotional places is great for the artist (and the audience) but harder on the individual sometimes.  I realize as I’m writing this, one of the reasons I love acting in other people’s projects is completely giving myself over to someone else’s vision (and getting out of my own head).  Completely trusting someone else’s vision is fun when you believe in the vision.  I’m enjoying putting my own vision back on the page, we’ll see where this one goes.

Semi-related, I’m going over Morgan Freeman’s career in full, and watched ‘Lean On Me’ again this weekend.  I always love watching this scene with two actors who I’ve admired my whole life.  The walking out line is my favorite.  Enjoy:

 

So how was my first run on an L.A. stage?  It’s been great.  Truly.

Earlier this week, I was in more of my natural element: a television soundstage.  12 hour day (usually the minimum), even with digital technology, at least 45 minutes between each setup to (hopefully) capture five minutes of usuable footage.

You use the same toolbox to build a character, but the stage experience is different in every other important way.  You’re on for two hours every night the show plays, ideally the person in the back row has to hear every word and see every gesture as clearly as the person in the front row.  You space out and forget your line or your cue, you come up with something else immediately or hope your scene partner bails you out.

The above is just stage acting; now let’s talk about the play I’m in.  First with live comedy, have to stay in character.  Drama is the same sure, but when you’re telling jokes, and your scene partner loses it, or you just get the giggles, you have to commit.  In this cast/show, I am the ‘Host’, so I have the easiest load to carry.  In sports/music terms, keep the show going, don’t take anything off the table.  If the audience wants to laugh, let them laugh; if they’re ‘too’ quiet, up the improv ante to try to warm them up.  In the audition and rehearsals I did impersonations of Denzel and Morgan Freeman, but let’s be honest: Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock are naturally more ‘theatrical’, and if you’ve seen the show, they work better for the ‘role’.  I still have no ambition to do stand up, but after doing this show I have to admit I feel more confident I ‘could’ do it, even if I was telling killer jokes in front of a sold out crowd who refused to laugh (which happened one night during our run).

In character, I’m supposed to be at the Theatre ‘because I owed someone a favor’, I’m supposed to be surly and undersell the jokes and the talent of the rest of cast, just in every way possible, I’m pissed to be roped into the show.  Basically, the exact opposite of how I truly feel, so you could say I have the hardest acting job in the cast. (See what I did there?)

But seriously, the reviews back it up, everyone who has come down has backed this up: it’s a fun show with a very talented cast.  Once in a while I betray my character and smile, but it’s still fun to watch the scenes play out, and to hear the songs sung.  Out of character, I’ve very much become a fan of everyone in the cast (and crew) individually, and hope to work with each of them again.

And Natalie, honey, if you’re not campaigning for Obama this weekend, you should get a sitter and come down.  I’ll comp you front row…

 

(Due to our busy schedules, Aaron and I couldn’t do our prediction column as promised.  But since there was no way in hell either of us would miss the show live, here is our marathon conversation over IM.  Enjoy…)

MALIK: Welcome to the 1st Annual Art Fradieu Oscar Running Diary.  My pre-show thoughts: While I like to think it’s as much of a lock as anything, I still feel jittery Mo’Nique will somehow get jobbed out of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.  Beyond that I’m hoping the Hurt Locker wins Best Picture.  Any pre-show thoughts Thomas?  Who will be wearing Vera Wang on the red carpet tonight?

ART: I don’t know much about Vera Wang, but I’m with you on Hurt Locker. Best film I saw last year. As for Mo’Nique, I think she wins Best Supporting Actress hands down. In fact, I think she wins it and does the emotional speech thing, “Uh Oh honey, if y’all start playing that music, somebody’s getting hurt…” She will steal the show and have people talking about her moment this week. “Mo’Nique is my hero. So soulful and real.” Wouldn’t surprise me at all. 

MALIK: And we’re off!  Cristoph Waltz wins Best Supporting Actor, no surprise there.  It was actually a good performance in a good film I have to admit.  But how about Penelope Cruz eh?  Is that accent real?  I’ve heard rumors…

ART: Waltz is no surprise at all. I agree, well deserved. As for Penelope Cruz, I’ve heard she’s actually from Cleveland. But, you never know.  Yeah. I agree with Up for best animated feature. First ten minutes of that movie almost had a brotha misty eyed.  Whatsup with that film Nine? Don’t think I’ve heard one good thing about it.

MALIK: Penelope Cruz brotha!  That’s all you need to know… And the Crazy Heart song wins.  So far this is a pretty predictable Oscars…

ART: Figured that was a crush of yours, but wasn’t even going there.

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Yeah, definitely predictable so far. Does Crazy Heart sweep every musical category this year?

MALIK: Probably.  The movie wasn’t that bad actually.  The big question now is if Jeff Bridges continues to talk in the Oklahoma accent if he wins…

ART: I’m just trying to see if he’s sober.

ART: Wow. Actually thought Tarantino might pull out Best Original Screenplay.

MALIK: I did too.  Guess there aren’t as many Tarantino fanboys in the Academy as I guessed.  John Hughes gets his own In Memoriam?!?

ART: His generation is in power now in Hollywood.

MALIK: Yeah.  Jokes aside, he was either directly or indirectly responsible for A LOT of good movies…

ART: He had a great run.

MALIK: OK, watching this montage I see your point…

ART: And, here comes that song…

MALIK: WHOA!  Young Alec Baldwin!!! (laughing uncontrollably)

ART: Yup. Him and Steve Martin worked in Hughes films.  Brat pack. Plus Culkin.

MALIK: So…is this a ratings ploy or an Academy tribute?

ART: I guarantee people will be talking about this tomorrow. Just seeing people from their childhood. The answer? It’s both.

MALIK: Am I the only one who noticed the crowd seemed to refuse to throw down the standing ovation?

ART: I saw that too. Part of the perception with Hughes is that his works were more entertainment than art. What’s the verdict on Zoe Saldana?

MALIK: Looking at Zoe makes me want to eat dinner.  Great intro for the Short Film category though.

ART: Nice to hear from seasoned pros looking back. Whoa. Brotha sighting.

MALIK: A brotha wins!!!!  And he gets cut off!!!!

ART: Why is this woman bogarting?

MALIK: (laughing uncontrollably)

ART:  And, what is she talking about?  Brotha probably hot!

MALIK:  MANNNNNNNNN!  I’m still mad for the brotha who got cut off!

ART: Same here. Leave it to Stiller to do blue face. Think Cameron is ticked at this?

MALIK: Doubt it, but is there any doubt Stiller officially gets invited to present every year now?  You remember the Joaquin Phoenix move last year…

ART: So, Star Trek takes this one, you think?

MALIK: I still heard a little Crazy Heart accent in Jeff Bridges.  Yeah Star Trek deserved that last one.

ART: So far, early on, the highlights of the night? Brotha gets cut off and Tina Fey/Downey Jr.

MALIK: Best Adapted Screenplay – What say you Mr. Writer?

ART: It’ll be interesting to see who wins Best Adapted Screenplay.  Not sure. Probably Up In The Air, but there was a debate as to how well the co-writers (one was the director of the film) got along during the process.

MALIK: Really?  We’ll talk about that one off the record – no need to give these plebians all the inside Hollywood magic.

ART: Oh. Precious. Black screenwriter. Nice.

MALIK: Go ahead brotha!!!  A behind the scenes win at that!

ART: Nice to see this. He’s gotta be the first black screenwriter to win. Nice.

MALIK: Yeah, and the way Rachel McAdams can’t take her eyes off him motivates me.

ART: Yup, figures…

MALIK: Very sincere acceptance speech.

ART: That’s the word that comes to my mind.  Good moment.  Queen Latifah’s looking good.

MALIK: Yeah she cleans up well. The Governor’s Award ceremony is like a wet dream for film buffs like myself.

ART: Yeah. Each of those is a giant of the industry to say the least. They all get standing ovations from everyone.

MALIK: Damn straight!  And Penelope and Javier keeping it real!

ART: Get ready for Mo’Nique to get emotional.

MALIK: Standing O?

ART: Mo’Nique walking with regalness.  Nice speech.

MALIK: Gut reaction but I think that was the best acceptance speech by a black winner.

ART: Succinct. To the point. Sincere.  Ah. You can always depend on the costume category to give an Oscar to the old English movie of the year.  Eh. Least sincere speech of the evening.  “I already have two of these awards. This is for the little people who never win.”

MALIK: (laughing)  Seriously!  How arrogant was that!?!  So what do you think of Twilight brotha?  I know you’ve seen it.

ART: Haven’t seen it.  The Vampire thing never gets me like others.

MALIK: Wait…a horror tribute, introduced by the Twilight kids?  Definitely ratings ploy.

ART: Yup. What you know about a young Johnny Depp in Nightmare On Elm Street?

MALIK: I honestly don’t like horror films, only the all time classics like the Exorcist and Psycho.

ART: Same here. Those actually scare you instead of shock you.  They got Morgan Freeman doing the narration again?  Here’s your Dark Knight…

MALIK: Needless to say, this is the greatest moment in the history of the Academy Awards…

ART: Alright Batman, calm down.

MALIK: So you think Precious has a chance now for Best Picture?

ART: Not really. I still feel like they’ll lean toward Hurt Locker. Getting the Adapted Screenplay was an upset for Precious.

MALIK: We’ll see brotha, we’ll see…

ART: The Hurt Locker is starting to collect the awards now.

MALIK: Very true.

ART: Paul N.J. Ottoson kind of looks like an albino Vampire with that hair.

MALIK: Yeah, kind of stereotypical to have that be the ‘sound guy’ isn’t it?

ART: Like he’s been in a cave only working with sound for an entire year.

MALIK: Really! Avatar for best cinematography, that was probably the biggest lock.

ART: Yeah. The film looked great.  What you know about CCH Pounder with the general from Avatar.  Is that her guy?

MALIK: Don’t know, don’t know…  ah, here comes the In Memoriam.  I can’t joke with this part.

ART: My mom is a James Taylor fan. Always perfect for reflection.

MALIK: Surprised they opened with Swayze.  Well done. No giants like Paul Newman passed this year.

ART: Of course, there’s Mike, but it’s not quite his stage.

MALIK: Yeah as far as ‘Hollywood’ goes he was more a fan than anything else.  Not surprised they included him though.

ART: Malden, Swayze and Dom Deluise seem to be the biggest this year.

MALIK:  I haven’t seen white girls with this much soul since the Sprite Step Off.  Too soon?

ART: (laughing) You gonna be hunted down by every Essence reader in America.  Nice overall dance piece, though.  Huge fan of scores. These were all solid.  Up was a classic. Glad it won for score. I also like Sherlock’s music. Avatar sounded like recycled music from Glory (remember that?)

MALIK: (laughing)  That was my first wrong pick tonight.  My gut said Up though.  And if people don’t know this is tongue in cheek, they should have stopped reading a long time ago.

ART: Avatar won for special effects?  That’s crazy.

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Precious should have got that.  Best Director is up next. You figure that Reitman and Tarrantino think they don’t have a chance against a woman, an African American and the king of the world, Cameron.

MALIK: Yeah.  I’ll be genuinely disappointed if the cougar doesn’t win now.

ART: She’s got it. But, since you bring it up. If Bigelow looked like an average above 40 year old woman, think she’d be nominated?

MALIK: First thing I’m not responding to in order to protect my future career opportunities.

ART: You done said enough, brotha…

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Best Editing for Hurt Locker. I’m thinking 90% chance of Best Picture.

MALIK: If Bigelow wins, yeah…

ART: Oh, she’ll win… She’s your new cougar crush, right?

MALIK: (laughing) Settle down, brotha, settle down.  I’m gonna have enough explaining to do when this column is over. Esoteric group to present this (Best Actor).

ART: Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see how they relate to each actor.

MALIK: Love Michelle’s speech about family and career.  What we aspire to.

ART: And, it’s a challenge for many people in many walks of life.

MALIK: Yes sir.

ART: Ok. Shawshank.

MALIK: Yeah good anecdote.

ART: Nicely done, Tim Robbins.

MALIK: Yeah, and SWAT?  I’ve watched that.  I’ll leap out of my seat if Jeremy wins.

ART: He’s not winning, but it’s nice to see him there. I remember when Renner was “the guy” I saw in every other commercial. By the way, using other actors to introduce the nominees is still a great way to do it.

MALIK: Agreed. It’s crazy Bridges got his first nomination 6 years before we were born.

ART: Jeff Bridges.  No surprise there. The Bridges, a very underrated Hollywood family.

MALIK: Agreed once again. The Thomases will get there soon enough though.

ART: (laughing)  If my kids are crazy enough to try this line of work, I’ll support them and wish them well.  Been married 33 years in Hollywood? That might be the most amazing thing I’ve heard all night.

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Forrest always sounds sincere, even if he’s ordering a burrito.

MALIK: I was thinking the same thing.  How does he get villain roles?

ART: The lazy eye. Does it every time.  These are nice speeches.  The best things about these intros is the reaction from the nominees. And, you can tell they have no idea what will be said.  What better intro to have than Oprah?

MALIK:  You were reading my mind. I think Oprah would be the number one choice to do an intro in our industry.

ART: If/when I have to intro you, I’ll start with “Malik used to dress like Batman, but… actually, he still does…”

MALIK: Is that right brotha?  well… If/when I have to intro you, I’ll start with “Aaron is a great writer, but if he asks you to help him move, know you won’t be getting a dinner out of it.”

ART: I’ll look at the camera and go “That’s right!”

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Is Sean Penn drunk?

MALIK: OH YEAH!

ART: Sandra…Bullock…

MALIK: You can’t leave Sean Penn backstage that long without libation, brotha…

ART: Sandra Bullock’s always been pretty down to Earth.

MALIK: Yeah I met her when we were in school.  I guess I can say I’ve met an Oscar winner now.

ART: Aren’t we all hoity toity? I met Clarence Jenkins, the guy who buffs the Oscars…

MALIK: Oh no, the husband was tearing up!  Eric Benet Part II

ART: We all know what happened after that, though.

MALIK: Bigelow’s winning…

ART: Yeah, you got Barbara presenting… AND, she led off with it being a woman….

MALIK: What if she would have said, “Or, for the first time, a colored…”

ART: (laughing)  Cut to the Tyler Perry section looking angry.

MALIK: Oprah probably would have walked back onstage…

ART: Well, well, well…  Bigelow wins. And Cameron made sure to cheer loudly.  Good stuff.

MALIK: Yeah. When my daughter tells me she wants to be a director, I’ll be able to look back at this night.

ART: So, here we go. The big one. Best Picture.  Hurt Locker.

MALIK: Right to the Point!

ART: Like it.

MALIK: Alright I think we got it.

ART: I like Bigelow, but she’s a little overhwelmed up on stage.  Cool. Until next year.  That’s a wrap.