Morgan Freeman born to narrate 'Born To Be Wild'

Actor lends voice to IMAX documentary, talks 'Batman'

Author: Tim Lammers
Published On: May 11 2011 10:22:14 AM EDT

Even though Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman begins narrating the new IMAX documentary "Born to Be Wild" with the line, "This story is like a fairy tale," the film is really aimed at all audiences.


But with the subject of the film being young, orphaned elephants and orangutans, Freeman was thrilled to hear that the film resonates with the youngest of children in the audience -- moviegoers who can no doubt directly relate with the youthful spirit of the animals as they are loved and cared for before they are set free with confidence into the real world.

"This is not 'Bambi.' This is not fantasy and this isn't a cartoon -- it's the real world and the real deal, and it's great that kids get this message so clearly," Freeman said in a recent interview. "The next two generations may be the salvation of us all."

<h3>Two Species In Peril</h3>
Opening Friday in IMAX 3D, "Born to Be Wild" tells the extraordinary story of two species in peril, and how two South African women -- Daphne Sheldrick and Birute Galdikas -- have dedicated their entire adult lives to rescuing young elephants and orangutans after the creatures' mothers lost their lives to poachers. Alternating scenes between each of the women's animal orphanages, the film follows Sheldrick and Galdikas as they raise the elephants and orangutans, respectively, as they nurture and eventually prepare them for their destinies as creatures in the wild.

Whenever you hear Freeman narrate a documentary, you can not only hear his voice, but feel that his soul has been invested into the project. So when telling the story of "Born to Be Wild," Freeman gained profound insight into the plights of the creatures orphaned out of select human's disrespect for wildlife and their environments.

"What comes to my mind watching this is how rapidly we are damaging the planet by just taking over everything -- by destroying habitats and killing off different species of animals. It's being done with such neglect," Freeman said. "There's just such of an overpowering need for space -- just to take it all."

<h3>A Sought-After Voice, Talent</h3>

Freeman is without question one of the most sought after talents in show business, not only for his voice talents but his acting -- which has over the years earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (for "Million Dollar Baby") and another four nominations. He also narrated the Oscar-winning documentary "March of the Penguins," which put his voice in even higher demand -- and effectively made his choices more difficult to make because of the sheer number of offers.

"There are screeners between the projects and myself who will read the projects and will let me know if the project is worthwhile," Freeman said. "The other thing is, if it comes to me through a studio like Warner Bros., who I have a great respect for as a company, then I'm already a leg up. For 'Born to Be Wild," I saw the documentary before doing it, and I thought it was an astounding piece that was so beautifully shot. It's a wonderful story of these two courageous, selfless ladies."

All told, Freeman, 73, said he feels blessed to not only have had the opportunity to work on "Born to Be Wild," but on several different types of projects over the years.

But no matter if he's telling compelling stories about real life with "Born to Be Wild" and "March of the Penguins," imparting wisdom through fictional characters (Red in "The Shawshank Redemption" and Eddie in "Million Dollar Baby") or imparting wisdom through a real-life character in a narrative piece (Nelson Mandela in "Invictus"), Freeman said he approaches each of his projects with the same amount of conviction.

And on the flip side, when Freeman's work is said and done, the acclaimed actor said he doesn't like to play favorites.

"I don't think it's a good idea to rank your work," Freeman said, humbly. "I'm discerning, hopefully, in the things I choose to work on. Once you've done it, you hope that you've given it your best. I always try to give whatever my best is. So I'm really, fully unable to rank things. I hope you'll do that for me."

<h3>'Dark Knight' Rising Again</h3>

Freeman said he'll be returning to a role that's become a fan favorite in the superhero genre, for director Christopher Nolan's third "Batman" film "The Dark Knight Rises," set for a July 20, 2012, release.

Reprising his role as Bruce Wayne's business manager and gadget developer Lucius Fox, Freeman said he's anxious to reunite with the director and fellow stars Christian Bale and Michael Caine.

"I've been notified that I'll be in the next film, (and I'm thrilled because) we enjoy working together," Freeman said. "Chris Nolan sets up a great atmosphere."

Freeman said he's not surprised that the anticipation for Nolan's third and final "Batman" film is at a fever pitch, and he credits the bulk of the excitement generated by the filmmaker.

"They're very creative films," Freeman enthused. "To go back and recreate a franchise like 'Batman' and to have people go gaga over them takes cleverness."