Morgan Freeman Talks About Rapping in Super Bowl Ad

"Rapping doesn't come naturally to me," says the Oscar-winning actor about his rendition of Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On."
Courtesy of Golin

Morgan Freeman is known for his voice.

He's famous for a lot of things, of course, such as his impressive talent and an extensive résumé, but it's his voice that is unmistakable. Maybe that's why his latest role is so striking, because instead of using his own vocal cords in a new commercial, he borrows Missy Elliott's, lip-syncing to her hit "Get Ur Freak On." Actually, it's not just that.

It's also the fact that Freeman is fronting a Super Bowl commercial, cast alongside Grammy winner Elliott in a 60-second spot that also features Busta Rhymes and Peter Dinklage, all together to advertise Mountain Dew Ice (aka MTN DEW ICE) and Doritos Blaze. It's also the first time PepsiCo has advertised two of its trademark products back to back in one national TV spot during the Super Bowl. (Created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, the spot promotes the new lemon-lime flavor Dew and new hot and spicy chips.) 

Directed by Nabil Elderkin, also known just as Nabil, the clip officially debuts during Sunday's Super Bowl, though it can be seen below, following a Q&A with Freeman about why he signed on, the pitfalls of being a commercial star and how he'll spend his Super Bowl money. 

How does a Super Bowl commercial come your way. Take me back to how this opportunity was first presented to you?

My agent calls and says, "You have an offer for a Super Bowl commercial," and I go, "What?" Proceed from there. They tell you what it's going to be about and all of that. It's one of those things that an adventurous actor is not going to turn down.

This isn't your first commercial. What are your prerequisites before signing on? Is it money? Or do you need to try the product or service out first?

No, it's primarily a financial thing. It pays well so I'm not going to not do it. I'm not a commercial actor, however. Back in the day, when it was about paying the rent and putting food on the table, I went through a period of doing commercials. You have to be careful, though, it's possible to get stuck in commercials and find it hard to get work outside of that. I didn't want to wind up as a commercial actor.

Did you have any say on whether you'd be sharing the screen with Missy Elliott or Busta Rhymes?

I got all of them, Peter and Busta and Missy and so it's, like, OK, what's wrong with that? 

What was filming like? You have a couple of scenes, one in front of a mirror with Missy and another rapping "Get Ur Freak On." How many takes?

I have no idea — it was take after take, break for lunch, come back do some more. It was a well thought out exercise. It wasn't hard to do or to catch on to. I was surprised how quickly I could learn the words. Rapping doesn't come naturally to me, but it was a painless experience. A terrific director, too. I was encouraged by them that with each take it looked great. 

Did you prepare by listening to a lot of Missy Elliott before going to set?

No, I'm too old to have adopted rap as a genre [for me]. I'm still with the '70s and '80s. I know rap started way back then, but I was not on that then.

Where will you be on game day? Rooting for the Patriots or Eagles?

I don't know where I'll be — probably at home. A friend of mine said he might have a Super Bowl get-together, but we'll see. About the winners...I probably expect the Patriots to pull this one out. 

I know you're a big fan of Ole Miss, but do you watch a lot of NFL?

Not a lot. I have a few favorite teams, and there are a few teams that have players I personally know. I know Dak Prescott so because of that, I watch Dallas [Cowboys]. I also have friends who play for the Cardinals.

You don't strike me as a Mountain Dew Ice or Doritos Blaze kind of guy. What's your guilty pleasure snack?

I have some but I am keeping that to myself (laughs).

Does starring in this commercial mean your house is now full of Mountain Dew Ice and Doritos Blaze?

No, they didn't put that on me. I explained to them that I'm not a big soda drinker anyway. But if you go to a party and they have dip and chips, you're going to gorge on them. Doritos is one of the favorites there.

How are you going to spend your Super Bowl commercial earnings?

No plans. I don't even know how I'm going to spend it yet. There are a lot of possibilities. 

You've accomplished so much. Speaking of, congratulations on your most recent honor at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. How does starring in a Super Bowl commercial stack up on your list of accomplishments?

It's in its own category. In the right corner of life. You can look back on this and I did a pretty good commercial. It may be wishful thinking, but I'm told by people who are obviously biased that it's a pretty terrific commercial.

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