Why Morgan Freeman won't be seeing '12 Years A Slave'
October 24th, 2013
03:59 PM ET

Why Morgan Freeman won't be seeing '12 Years A Slave'

It's one of the most acclaimed movies of the year, and is an expected awards season contender, but Morgan Freeman isn't that interested in seeing "12 Years A Slave."

The Steve McQueen-directed drama is based on the real-life account of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and trafficked into slavery in the antebellum South.

The film is being hailed as a masterpiece, with accolades regularly handed out by critics for stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o.

But Freeman hasn't been swayed by the clamor.

"I saw a television movie that was made a few years ago about the same character (Northup)," the 76-year-old, who next stars in November 1's "Last Vegas," explained to The Daily Beast. "But I don’t particularly want to see it. I don’t want my anger quotient exacerbated, you know? Things are bad enough as they are. I don’t want to keep punching myself in the face with it."

"12 Years A Slave" opened in limited release on October 18, and is expected to go wide on November 1.

Filed under: Celebrities • movies

soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. JTMackTX

    It should make you mad when you see it. That way you remember how awful it was and won't let it happen again. Also, maybe you won't use the word slavery so nonchalantly like Sarah Palin and her right wing brood of numbnuts.

    November 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe Schlabotnik

    So Jewish people won't make or watch any more holocaust movies then either?

    November 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |

    I agree with Mr. Freeman, I get mad all over again when I see movies about slavery.

    November 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hadenuffyet

    Slavery has been around forever. Every race , color , creed and nation has been a victim at some point , so I refuse to plat a pity tune for anyone , anywhere , anyway.

    November 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lost

    I refuse to see the movie "12 Years A Slave" due to the subject matter. It's so painful, and slavery in this country's past has left an irreparable blemish. From the indoctrination of anti-miscegenation laws and the "one-drop rule", to Jim Crow laws, to the war on drugs, and the war on poverty....all tools used to cripple a people hungry for justice. Now, we have a president whose mother is white,and who's father is black, we are all insulted to see him endure racial attacks and slurs simply because some one or group of hateful people can't agree with him. The reported upswing of white-supremacist group recruiting activities is also another slap in the face. My question is this: What have black people done to deserve such ill treatment, what have native indigenous people done to deserve such ill treatment? What is wrong with white people?

    November 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • percy chow

      FWIW – I think everyone under 20 in the USA needs to see movies like this. Not because I am encouraging pain, but because our youth need to know there was a time in America (and people to this day), when society saw it right to treat people as less than people.

      The most shocked audiences I met who saw "42" weren't adults – it was kids I talked to, because they didn't understand how an entire nation, their own USA, had such beliefs.

      November 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      You're right. Even black colleges hate Obama. For ObamaCare cancelling their insurance: http://campusreform.org/?ID=5235

      What is wrong with people who see eternal left/right disagreement as "raaaacist!!"?

      November 21, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kenny

    Love Freeman. His narration of Through the Worm Hole is epic.

    November 19, 2013 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. eva68

    I agree with Freeman. I feel the same way about politics.

    November 17, 2013 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. giolynn

    My 85 year old grandmother told me she did not want to see any slave movies because she was raised in the South, worked the cotton fields and it was too close to home. I agree with Mr. Freeman and my grandmother. I do not need to see a portrayl of what my family went through. Sometimes things are too close to home.

    November 13, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SONIA


    November 13, 2013 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. neschegemov

    Mr. Freeman is not required to see any movies and give any reasons for that. He, however, being in a position of prominence and influence, should be cognizant of the effects his statements make on other people. That's a basic duty of a public man, which he is. The reason he gave is immature and inflammatory, and especially strange coming from a man who's done so fantastically well in a place where things are so "bad". The comment is deeply disdainful of the very people of all races whose help, work and love helped to make him what he is. He could've done better.

    November 12, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rufus Bogart

      I am a Jewish man who has never seen Schindler's List. I do not go to see Holocaust movies. It is NOT because I am an elitist. It is for the exact reason stated by Mr. Freeman. I know the history and simply do not want to subject myself to the pain of reliving it. I do however believe that these kinds of movies should be made and seen by anyone not familiar with the events depicted.

      November 18, 2013 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • reldra

      This small blurb was taken out of a much longer interview with The Daily Beast, where he was asked this question and why. It's not like he had a press conference to announce he wasn't seeing the movie.

      November 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mary dieckow

    Seen the movie, thought it was good. Personally i think all kids today need to see the film so they can understand the brutality of slavery, since they do not teach much history in schools today!

    November 12, 2013 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • nan

      Our young people are visually oriented and text books seldom delve into the role of slavery in this country. I think this work is extremely valuable.I understand Mr. Freeman's agony when you see how we were treated in this country. That is the reality of how this country was built. Free Labor.

      November 15, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cold Sun

    The only slave movie I want to see is the Legend of Nat Turner! Now that would be a good slave movie!

    November 12, 2013 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. Tom

    Worst movie I have ever seen. The plot is man stands up, he is beaten. Man sits down,
    he is beaten and this goes on for over an hour. Avoid this movie like the plague.

    November 8, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim in PA

      Tom – The summary you give of this movie could also be used interchangeably to describe Passion of the Christ. Or Rocky. Oversimplifying things tends to have that result.

      November 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |

      Um, you have the problem with the "PLOT"? You DO realize the movie is based on true events, right? That's what the guy actually went through. You can't make a historical film if you're not going to include real events just because they are unpleasant to watch. If that were true, movies like 12 Years A Slave, Schindler's List, etc would be 3 minute films.

      November 17, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nathan

    That is the difference between my people, African Americans and the Jews. The Jews will make sure everyone sees this movie and use it as a motivational tool to make sure it never happens again by stressing education and self economic preservation. Morgan Freeman is just worried about getting angry and punching someone in the face. I'm sure the watered down version he claims to have seenon TV did not depict the true brutality of that era thus leaving an impression that difficult to remember. I know I never saw the version he was talking about

    November 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry

      I completely get what he's saying. As a man, he has the right to pick and choose which media he wishes to consume. He is clearly aware that this film, whether good or bad, will be upsetting to him. It is clearly not breaking any new ground for him, so why go through the aggravation? We all have the right to self-censor. Maybe we should utilize this right more frequently.

      November 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 1865

    How about a movie about the countless men who died to set the black man free? A lot of them were white. Many of them, like three of my ancestors, never met the people they freed. They didn't live long enough. HOW ABOUT THAT FRICKING MOVIE, huh? You guys want history, there's your history.
    See how this game can be played by all sides? Looking to the past and drawing direct correlations to your life, your times, and your issues, by focusing on the most self-serving of those events, only seeks to put you in the place you wish to escape - that of the victim. It's pathetic. A self-fulfilling death spiral, played out time and time again on posts like this and in the inner city.
    Something to think about, for your kids' and grandkids' sake.

    November 7, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      wow that's not very intelligent. looking at your past with reverence, respect, and honor makes you a victim? it's self-serving to watch a movie, read a book about or remember a time when you weren't free? it's exactly what you need to do to focus on the fact that you're very special and it keeps you from becoming a thug. if you know what your people overcame to be free and educated, you will unite and do whatever you could to show the world that you intend to be free and be educated. it's nature vs. nurture. if youre never taught anything about where you came from and what youre supposed to be about, then you cant display that in your daily life. and the movie youre thinking of for the whites that freed blacks is EVERY FREAKING CIVIL WAR MOVIE EVER MADE.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
    • zr1100c3

      What about every movie about the Civil War that's ever been made?

      November 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Kre8tive

    I agree. I refuse to go see it, buy it or watch it! Is enough! We need more positive movies that reflect the culture.
    Why do we need to review this type of movie over and over again.

    November 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      this is why morgan shouldn't have said what he said. he gave people an opportunity to say don't watch black history movies. who said this movie wasn't a positive influence on the world in general? I used to give a handout called life of a slave to my students and its what Solomon northup recalled about his life on a louisiana plantation. my students learned about what slaves ate and how they lived and how long they had to work right before we watched Roots. now you tell me how is this harmful to black students?

      November 8, 2013 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  17. mark george

    I love morgan freeman and have used several of his movies in my black history classes. He is correct in saying that it's difficult to keep seeing the themes of racism, slavery and segregation without getting mad all over again. it's particularly gut-wrenching at times but this movie is not for him or a black history expert like skip gates or myself. this movie is for the kids and students as we attempt to wake them up from a self-imposed malaise and technologically-saturated stupor. we want them to stop looking down at their phones and video games long enough to understand the sacrifices, hardships and struggles of those who came before them. if they can get to the point of exhaustion and not wanting to get angry all over again at what slavery did to black people, then we have succeeded.

    but alas it begins at home with the parents and an extended families teaching what they know about the struggle and telling their kids why it's important to know your history. our 20 year olds are so violent and angry these days wanting to act like thugs and for what? why do they all run out and get guns when they enter high school? are they all being bullied to the point of self-defense? a good black history education is vital to the safety and security of our nation. once our students realize that they are literally in the same boat as their fellow man, that some people want them to fail even today, and that their future is tied to the understanding of their ancestors they will inevitably rise. it Is a great pleasure to learn all that I can about black history and teaching it is my duty and my honor. yes morgan freeman said that line in lean on me...that's the first movie I show at the beginning of each year and administrators in the schools HATE IT!

    November 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  18. What a disgrace...

    I have never experienced that behavior in my entire life.

    November 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  19. GM Riley

    Why is the actor for Driving Mrs. Daisy the authority on films? Why are we asking his opinion? Who is he speaking for besides himself? Incidentally, I see a MAJOR conversation on race relations in the 21st century when I thought this post was about Freeman's opinion like ANYONE really CARED...

    November 4, 2013 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  20. Dex

    "Things are bad enough as they are. I don’t want to keep punching myself in the face with it."

    What a cop-out. Slavery happened, it was brutally unjust and it's a history that Americans shouldn't cower from. Perhaps Freeman would be happier if movie-goers just continued lapping up trivial fare such as his latest film. That way, everyone can continue to remain ignorant of their history, yet happy.

    November 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary Benedict

      I'm trying to clarify something. Do you think Morgan Freeman was telling other people not to see the movie, instead of just saying he didn't think it was the right thing to see, himself? Second, do you feel that Freeman is morally obligated in some way to see the movie? Do you feel he is too out of touch with his African-American background, or that he will be less sympathetic to nonwhite causes if he does not see the film? I'm just trying to understand.

      November 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      He was asked his opinion. Its his perogitive not to watch it and be upset by it. You watch what you want no one forces you to watch anything. Don't you?

      November 5, 2013 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  21. judymooreperez

    We all know how bad things were at that time, for black people, jewish people, american natives and especially children. I do not want to spend two hours being tortured in the few hours of spare time I have watching a human being being abused. We all know it was wrong...please give us movies that inspire us to be better, do better and give our children hope for a better future.

    November 2, 2013 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Schmoogalicious

      Judy, why do you believe 12 Years A Slave won't inspire you to be better, do better, and give your children hope for a better future?

      November 3, 2013 at 4:33 am | Report abuse |
  22. retief1954

    The man just doesn't want to see the movie! You get to a certain age, you've earned that right. He's under no obligation to see it because of the topic. Let him be.

    October 31, 2013 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
    • ginamero

      He's also not under any obligation to comment on it either...but he did so he has invited this conversation...Let us be.

      October 31, 2013 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary Benedict

      And since you have had the conversation, you have invited people to respond to your conversation. So there's no reason to "let you be."

      November 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  23. AverageJoe76

    I understand where Morgan is coming from. But ignoring it will not help.

    October 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  24. RJ

    That's a shame. It is such a great movie. I paid $12.50 to see incredible actors of all races portray complex characters. The movie showed all the horrible things we know about slavery but it also did a great job of showing how slavery itself impacted EVERYBODY. Yes, what was done to my ancestors was atrocious but their masters had their own self inflicted scars too. This is the first movie that helped me see that. It's a shame a fellow African American will turn away and not look at it.

    October 29, 2013 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • dsangiovanni

      He has the right to do whatever he wants to do. Should not be a shame. That's his right.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  25. dreeves

    we are all salves to the tax man anyway so why linger on the old south. None of those people are still lingering around, i dont think. Lets talk about the slave state the federal government wanted in texas. split texas in half and make west texas a large penal colony. the state said no and said it would split from the union to stop it. think about that

    October 29, 2013 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      We are all soothing, medicinal ointments for healing or relieving wounds or sores (salves) to the tax man?

      October 29, 2013 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  26. Brad Richmond

    While I understand Mr.Freeman's heasitation in wanting to fan flames of what may be lingering disturbing images of slavery.
    And those that persisted through out the Jim Crow era. A time not so distant from his youth growing up in the south. While coming of age in the late 40s and early 50s, as witness to white southerner acts of terror against their black neighbors in opposition to the civil rights movement, hearing of or being a witness to bombings of churches or the hanging or assignation of some black or white activist.And feeling such rage at the way thing were.
    That seeing it on the big screen can be as emotionally draining and aggravating now as it was in the past!

    But Mr.Freeman if you can muster the strength of will to see this film and view it as the theatrical work that it is.And separate from yourself the personal displeasure of the depiction of the horrors of slavery and see the characters in the light of their will to survive, and know that the hatred and those horrors of the passed were thwarted by the smarts and determination of many slaves of that time and know to that we have come a very long way.
    Even though there are still vestiges of evil thinking men that exist today!
    And know that, We Have Overcome!

    October 28, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  27. lili

    I am glad that Morgan Freeman is not afraid to say what he says. And I completely get what he means, why watch something that will only make you angrier?

    October 28, 2013 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  28. Lapisdreams

    I have always admired Mr. Freeman for his grace, dignity, and impecability. He's one of the geatest actors and human beings I have seen in a long time.

    October 27, 2013 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  29. M.A.P.

    wonderful man and actor

    October 26, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  30. bob_in_ny

    I enjoy and respect the works of Morgan Freeman. He is a fine actor who performs well in both comedy and drama arenas, exactly because he is a fine actor, and a personable human being. If he is not anxious to see this period piece, so be it. I respect his freedom to choose, and I hope this movie does well. I saw the trailers and want to see this for myself. Movies such as this, The Butler and The Help, while fine movies, may touch on subjects that he would rather not revisit, and enjoy some different fare better, like his movie RED, with Bruce Willis. We all have our preferences.

    October 25, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Morgan Freeman

    is one of the greatest actors in history and we need too respect him. There is nothing wrong with the actor and i find him an example to young people heading into the acting business. He remains friends with his "Electric Company" cast..which was a children's show years ago. The guy is real he's not fake....he hangs with clint eastwood and then another day he's having lunch with the Electric Company cast members.... I like him.

    October 25, 2013 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  32. Islavenomore

    But he stars in driving Ms Daisy!

    October 25, 2013 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  33. NiceMan

    Morgan Freeman is one of the greatest actors of all time...Everyone loves him....

    October 24, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  34. the lobs

    I love that actor hes hot

    October 24, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Cold Sun

    I agree with him. The only slave movie I want to see is the Legend of Nat Turner, We have done the Slave movie thing too many times.

    October 24, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr E

      Amen to that! I hope McQueen makes that one next, I'll be FRONT & CENTER!!

      October 25, 2013 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • tessie may

      Is it going to be called that? The book-which my mom gave me when I was about 10-was called The confessions of Nat Turner. Either way, a great book.

      October 29, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • GM Riley

      The Autobiography of Jane Pittman, Rosewood, etc. were excellent depictions( actually both were true stories ) of that era. Movie like Django that cast a talented Jamie Fox in Aviator sunglasses and a perm hairstyle NO!!!!

      November 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |

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