In 1989, Bruce Beresford staged “Miss Daisy and her driver”. Worn by Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, the film has become, over time, an immense classic of the seventh art. But did you know that Morgan Freeman almost failed because of his age?
Miss Daisy and her driver : huge classic
In 1940, Miss Daisy is an old Jewish lady who lives Atlanta. A retired teacher, she finds herself unable to drive her car without damaging it. His son then decides to hire a driver to help with household chores. This is the starting point of an extraordinary friendship. Miss Daisy and her driver has become over the years an immense classic of the seventh art. A film full of humanity that approaches cultural differences and social castes with a critical and benevolent look.
Directed by Bruce Beresford, the feature film met an impressive critical success. Miss Daisy and her driver is nominated 9 times for the Oscars and leaves with 4 statuettes: Best film, Best Actress for Jessica Tandy, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Makeup. On the box office side, the film brings in more than $145 million in revenue. Above all, Miss Daisy and her driver Mark Morgan Freeman’s second major film role. However, the actor almost failed because of his age.
Morgan Freeman too young for the role?
If Morgan Freeman embarked on a career as an actor (especially on the boards) from the end of the 1960s, we have to wait until 1987 to make a name for himself with the general public. It’s his role as Fast Black in The street which draws light to itself. Two years later, it is the consecration with Miss Daisy and her driver where he won a Golden Globe, a Silver Bear and an Oscar nomination. Yet, for a bit, Morgan Freeman was nearly ousted from the project.
At the time, Morgan Freeman knew the character of the driver Hoke Colbum well. He has, in fact, already camped on stage in an adaptation of Miss Daisy and her driver. However, Warner had difficulty trusting him… Indeed, in the original story by Alfred Uhry, Miss Daisy at 72 and Hoke at 60. Jessica Tandy was therefore the perfect age to camp Miss Daisy, but Morgan Freeman, then 52 years old at the time, was considered a bit young by the studios to embody the driver Hoke. Director Bruce Beresford therefore hesitated before giving his approval to Morgan Freeman. In any case, this is what the latter said a few years ago at the microphone of The Hollywood Reporter :
When I first met Bruce, it was backstage at the play, and I remember saying, “Do I get the part?” He replied: “You’re a bit young for that”. I said to myself: “OK, too bad, it’s not that bad”. Traditionally, theater actors don’t get the role when it’s made into a movie.
Finally, the director and the production reversed their decision and gave the role to Morgan Freeman. And fortunately for the actor, both Miss Daisy and her driver is a cornerstone of his career. It is even, even today, one of his favorite roles:
It is the touching relationship between a man and a woman over a long period of time. It reminds me a bit of those French movies about love. It was literally a love story. I maintain it was one of the best roles I’ve ever had in my entire career.