Freeman has appeared in blockbuster films like Million Dollar Baby (for which he won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), The Dark Knight, Unforgiven, The Bucket List, The Shawshank Redemption and Driving Miss Daisy.
This summer he will appear in the highly anticipated, The Dark Knight Rises.
His latest turn on the screen is a small, family fare comedy-drama, directed by Rob Reiner. It also stars Madeline Carroll, Ash Christian, Kenan Thompson, Emma Fuhrmann, Fred Willard and Nicolette Pierini.
In the film Freeman plays Monte Wildhorn, a famous Western novelist whose struggle with alcoholism has sapped his passion for writing. He takes a lakeside cabin for the summer in picturesque Belle Isle, and befriends the family next door—an attractive single mom (Madsen) and her young daughters—who help him find inspiration again.
I caught up with the actors to discuss the film, set for a nationwide release July 6, 2012.
MORGAN FREEMAN AS MONTE WILDHORN
DD: Mr. Freeman, Rob Reiner said of you, “Morgan brings tremendous wisdom, strength and soul. What do you think about that?
MF: I think they finally got it right. (he laughs uproariously)
DD: Virginia, what did you think when you found out you’d be starring opposite Morgan Freeman?
VIRGINIA MADSEN AS CHARLOTTE O'NEIL
VM: I said, ‘what’???? I was overjoyed.
DD: Mr. Freeman, what was your response when you found out your co-star was Virginia Madsen?
MF: I’ve seen a lot of Virginia’s work. She’s steadfast. She’s always right on the money, whatever it is.
DD: What did you think of the script?
MF: I found the whole script poetic. I like that whole thing.
DD: Was there anything challenging?
MF: Yes, Monday through Friday getting out of bed in the morning. We had reasonable hours, daylight shooting and some night shooting.
MORGAN FREEMAN & VIRGINIA MADSEN
VM: We had very early calls, but it was a joyous family feeling on the set. The location was like a character itself.
DD: Mr. Reiner, why this movie and why now?
RR: When I turned 60, I started recognizing the preciousness of life. You start wanting to enhance it. That’s why I did Bucket List. When I saw this script I thought here’s a guy whose life is passing away. He can’t write anymore. I thought about that and how through the relationships. It’s something I think about. It’s A Wonderful Life is my favorite movie. It’s about the preciousness of life. Unless we’re all Shirley MacLaine, this may be all we’ve got.
DD: Why did you want Morgan Freeman in the role?
RR: Originally, I thought of George Clooney and Robert Downey. Originally, the Morgan character was 50. Morgan is my favorite actor. We enjoy each other on the set.
DD: Why did you want Virginia Madsen?
RR: She was perfect for the role.
DD: Are you a better director because you’re also an actor?
RR: Yes. There’s a lot I take as an actor. I know this fear and nervousness. I try to create a place to relax. I wouldn’t ask the actors to do something I couldn’t do. If as a director you’re also an actor, most actors trust you. The best directors are those that have been actors.
DD: This movie could bomb if the chemistry between Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen didn’t work.
RR: I know. I was lucky.
DD: What do you do with your movies when the chemistry doesn’t work.
RR: Luckily, I haven’t had that problem.
MORGAN FREEMAN & EMMA FUHRMANN
DD: I was surprised about something that happened in the movie between Morgan and Virginia.
RR: I think I know what you mean. Because of that, I actually changed the ending of the movie.
DD: Lets talk about the production. How long to shoot? How much did it cost?
RR: We shot for 25 days. It cost $5 million to make.
The Magic of Belle Isle, directed by Rob Reiner and shot entirely on location in Greenwood Lake, New York, stars Morgan Freeman, Virginia Madsen, Kenan Thompson, Madeline Carroll, Emma Fuhrmann, Nicolette Pierini, Fred Willard and Ash Christian.