Morgan Freeman's Producing Partner on What He Taught Her and His Hidden Talent (He Can Sing!)
Lori McCreary opens up about her 22-year Revelations producing partner, "a great pointer toward true north," as he prepares to accept the SAG Awards' Lifetime Achievement honor on Sunday.
Lori McCreary first met Morgan Freeman in Arsenio Hall's production office on the Paramount lot in 1992. She was producing the film Bopha!, which Freeman was directing. After shooting the film in Zimbabwe, she and Freeman decided to form a production company together. "I just started noticing that we were always looking at the problems from the same point of view," says McCreary, who launched Revelations Entertainment with Freeman in 1996.
Ahead of Freeman being honored with the SAG Awards' Lifetime Achievement honor on Sunday, McCreary spoke to THR about her longtime producing partner.
What might surprise people about Morgan Freeman?
I come from the tech industry, so I call him WYSIWYG: What you see is what you get. It's a computer term, but it's exactly who Morgan is. Sometimes, when you meet an actor, you don't know if they're acting or that's them. Morgan is just who he is.
How did you decide on the mission for your company?
We're committed to stories that haven't been told or haven't been told from a particular point of view. So we started talking about the company name and Morgan said, "We should do stories that are revealing something about the truth about a situation or about people or about a different way of life that we haven't seen before." So that's pretty much the lens that we've stuck with for about 25 years. And Morgan is extremely loyal, not only with his team but with projects. We both are interested in looking at diverse storytelling, and we've had projects on our slate for 20 years that we've gotten calls about in the last year, saying, "Do you have this project about Bass Reeves?" [Reeves was the first black U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi.] Some of these projects are just now coming into their time to be told.
Do you have a memorable on-set story as producers?
We were on a movie one time and we had an actor who was notoriously late, consistently late. Morgan took them aside and basically said, "Look at all these people standing here. There's over 100 people standing here. Every one of these people has someone at home waiting for them. You're not only taking the time of the production, but all these people are going to have less time with their families tonight, because you aren't here. So I expect you tomorrow to be here."
And were they?
Yes, they were. It just shows how he just thinks of things sometimes from a different perspective — not just about, it's costing everyone money, which was normally what people said.
What has he taught you as your producing partner?
We worked on a project about Nelson Mandela for years that ended up going away. I was quite upset. Morgan said, "Lori, every project has its time and its team. That door closed, but there's going to be windows that open." Two weeks later, we got a treatment for a book that eventually became Invictus. Had I not listened to him and been open for something else, I'm not sure I would have noticed that coming across my desk. He's a great pointer toward true north.
He's an amazing singer. We're dying to get him in a musical.
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.