Exclusive Q&A with Morgan Freeman.
The Golden Globe Award-winning American actor, film director, and narrator plays Professor Norman in Lucy – an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. To celebrate the film’s release on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital, Morgan Freeman took some time out to give us an exclusive insight into the film.
You choose your projects very carefully. What was it about Lucy that appealed to you and made you want to be in it?
The project appealed to me because of Luc Besson. He is one of the most fascinating filmmakers around today. He is so inventive and creative. He has done such films as The Fifth Element and Leon: The Professional, with his newest film Lucy being even more ambitious. To get to work with Luc was the biggest draw for me.
How was your first meeting with Luc Besson to talk about your possible involvement in this movie?
Luc and I had lunch and talked about the project and why he wanted me to do it. Then when he also told me that Scarlett Johansson was going to be in it, I said, “I’m in!”
What did you think of the script when you read it?
The first thing I thought was the script was very intelligent. I also liked how intelligent my character is, as he is going to tell you what is going on and what may happen if you get a certain amount of control over your brain power. Reading it, I thought to myself, “Yes, I can do this. I can pull this off.”
Professor Norman is a fascinating character. How did you manage to relate to him?
It all came out of Luc Besson’s imagination because I don’t know any neurologists, so I had no one else to attach him to apart from Luc and myself.
The film dives into the subject of the capabilities of the human brain and what would happen if we utilized it more than what we already do. Is that a topic that interests you?
Well of course. What if you could get access to more of your “supposed” brainpower? And I used the term “supposed” because some people believe that we do use all of its capacity but are just not aware of it. It’s hard to say… The brain monitors our body and tells us immediately when something is going wrong, and then it is also capable of re-wiring itself after a stroke around that damaged part of itself.
So in regards to how much of it we really use, what do you believe?
That we do apparently use more of it than we think we do. But what would happen if we could gain control consciously of more? That becomes a question that we don’t know how to answer or what the consequences of it would be, good or bad.
The scene in the movie when Lucy gets in touch with your character represents the moment all his theories are realised and come true.
Yes, it’s almost as if his theories were there written before him! She calls him up and says she has read all his research, and it turns out that she has. That is when Norman is aware that something fascinating is coming his way… It’s all thanks to the imagination of Luc Besson!
Let’s talk about Luc Besson then. What is he like on set?
Luc is easy to work with and knows how to get things done. And along with that comes his sense of humor, which makes the set and the work fun. With him, filmmaking seems easy.
Isn’t that how it should always be?
Yes, even when you have difficult stuff to deal with like, for instance, rain; but the work itself should never have to be filled with tension or strife. When you are working with Luc Besson you don’t get any of that.
What do you think Scarlett Johansson brought to the role of Lucy?
A really good dedication to that role. Scarlett is a fascinating actress that doesn’t take herself too seriously and reminds me of other great names like Julia Roberts or Meryl Streep.
Do you think it is important to not take yourself too seriously?
I think it is very important to not take yourself too seriously. Listen, if you are not laughing at yourself, somebody else is! So, you should probably try to get a jump on him…
Apart from dealing with some fascinating subjects Lucy is also an entertaining action movie that touches different genres.
Yes, it has a lot going on. But the truth is that I have never seen a movie of Luc Besson that didn’t have a lot going on in every frame! All of his films move fast and keep you on the edge. That’s why he is a great storyteller and his work is so watchable.
It seems you like to do different things in your career and tackle all kinds of roles.
I do! One of the great joys of being an actor is precisely getting to do many different things with many different people. How many different characters you can get to be is really fascinating. In my first play in New York, I was this person who could change characters and shift gears on stage. I believe actors love to do those sorts of things. The play was called Rocks in his Pockets and in it, two actors played a cast of hundreds. It can be done!
You have played wise men and even God before. What attracts you to those types of characters?
I think that, first and foremost, I am attracted to the story. If that wise person with all his gravitas fits into the story well and I can see myself fitting into that character, then I’m drawn to it.
In the opening scene of Lucy, we see Professor Norman lecturing on the human brain. You probably get frequently invited to give speeches…
I get asked all the time to give speeches, but I decline the offers because I am actually not good at that. I am only good at pretending to do that! After all, I am an actor…
But what was the last great speech you remember listening to?
I think the last great speech I heard was delivered by Maya Angelou. I was knocked out! She is so beautiful and fascinating when she starts to talk.
We all do different things to exercise our brain and keep it sharp. What do you do?
I am addicted to computer solitaire. I can sit through the day playing if I have nothing better to do. I also enjoy crossword puzzles. I have been doing them since I was 8 or 9 years old.
And what would you do if you could have Lucy’s brainpower and the possibility to do the things she is capable of?
If I had some kind of incredible power like she does, I would eliminate all the weapons of destruction on the planet. Every single weapon would be gone! This way, if two people needed to get into it, they would have to use their fists, sticks or rocks.
How did you feel after you saw this movie for the first time?
I thought to myself, “Wow, Luc did it again!” I think the final result is simply outstanding!
And did you enjoy the experience of shooting it in Paris?
Oh heavens, yes! Funnily enough, when I was 22, I started studying French precisely because I had every intention of moving to Paris and teaching dance. That never came to fruition, but I did learn some French, and my fascination with the language and the country remained. Now I wish I could learn some Japanese because I am fascinated with that culture too!Sydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.