When Good Stars Behave Badly

by Kayla Perrin

Yesterday morning, I was driving in my car, listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show, when the hosts began to talk about a disturbing scandal involving actor Morgan Freeman. I was pulling into my driveway, but sat in the car until I heard the details.

According to Tom Joyner and his co-hosts, a story had broken in The National Enquirer regarding Morgan Freeman. And then they dropped the bomb: the story alleged that Freeman, 72, has been having an affair with his 27-year-old step-granddaughter FOR TEN YEARS. It's bad enough that she's his step-granddaughter. But if this story is true, it's even worse that he would have begun this essentially incestuous relationship when the girl was only 17.

The hosts all discounted the Enquirer as a reliable source, but what had them stumped was the allegation of ten years. They argued that that number led them to believe there was some truth to the story, as that wasn't a number someone would just pull out of thin air.

Tom Joyner went on to say that he hoped the story wasn't true, but if it was, then he could no longer watch any movies starring Morgan Freeman. For example, he couldn't watch THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION anymore (one of my favourite movies!). Nor ALONG CAME A SPIDER. Nor any other movie Morgan Freeman has ever been in. He could no longer watch the man who had once played God in anything else.

The comment got me thinking. My first thought was, That's a bit extreme. I couldn't imagine myself not watching another Morgan Freeman film. Like I mentioned above, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION is one of my all-time favourite films. But then I thought about my initial reaction and realized what it was. In a way, I was dismissing Morgan Freeman's alleged bad behaviour.

I'll be clear--I don't in any way condone the relationship he may have had with his step-granddaughter, and I hope against hope that the story's not true. But I realized that when my first thought was that I wouldn't necessarily boycott any of Freeman's films, it was a thought I had only because of the successful actor that he is.

For example, if I heard that a neighbour had done the exact same thing, I would waste no time in deciding that the neighbour was a dirty-old-pig and avoid him like a cancer. So why wasn't my first reaction to take the same kind of stand that Tom Joyner was making (providing the story proves to be true at the end of the day?).

Because I admire Morgan Freeman. And it's very easy to blur the lines of reality and fiction when it comes to stars. We see actors like Freeman in the role of hero time and time again, and we believe that is who they are as people. It would be a terrible blow for me to accept that someone I admire so greatly could be . . . well, a dirty-old-pig.

Again, I am going to reiterate that I'm not saying the story is true, and that I sincerely hope it isn't. Because how can I go on watching him in new movies and old and not have my view of him tainted?

When Kiefer Sutherland is accused of bad behaviour, it's par for the course. It doesn't bother me one way or another, and it doesn't stop me from watching one of my favorite television shows, 24. I have no problem separating Jack Bauer the fictional character from Kiefer Sutherland the person. And I LOVE the crime-fighting Jack Bauer.

But can I do the same with Morgan Freeman? My admiration of him is based on more than his character in his films. I've seen him do interviews and he comes across as extremely likable. I know he was very charitable after Hurricane Katrina. Morgan Freeman the man has always seemed like a stand-up guy . . . the kind of man I would never expect to engage in despicable behaviour.

So do I take the kind of stand Tom Joyner will take if this story proves to be true? Or do I appreciate Morgan Freeman the actor and forget who he might be in his personal life? What would you do?

I hope the story is debunked and I won't have to make that decision. This is one story I just don't want to be true.

Author of AFTERNOON DELIGHT, a SPICE Brief release from eHarlequin.


  1. This really is a tough call. Sometimes I'm able to let go of the 'person behind the actor' and just enjoy the show. However if, like you said, part of the enjoyment of the show is linked to my respect for the person, how can one step away from that?

    Tom Hanks is someone I see as a Stand Up Guy as well. Or as my husband likes to say, "He's one of the good guys." If something dispicable arose in connection with him I'm not sure how I would then feel about him as an actor.

    Like you, I really hope it's not true.


  2. Oy hope this is not true and it's for the same reasons you both listed. He comes across as this incredibly dignified man both on and off screen.

    Not that Kiefer doesn't for the most part but we're all aware of Kiefer's temper and run in's with the law and it's not quite the same as it doesn't involve an innocent girl (at the time)

    I'm sure if this story replaced Kiefer instead of Morgan I would feel taken aback in the same way.

  3. Yeah, it is tough. I agree that if Kiefer were alleged involved with a young girl, it would taint my view of him in a worse way, and maybe I wouldn't be able to separate the man from the actor. I hope this story is really about family after money, or something like that. I guess time will tell!

  4. I really think these MEN should be able to find women of age that are not related to ehem. My absolute most hated on celeb is Angelina Jolie.... I have never been a fan but since her stealing the hubby of another actor, then denying it until just recently, then admitting yeah it was true she is more than just a scank. Her Dad has bent over backwards to make up for alleged wrongs of abandoning her with her mother when she was young but still won't give him the time of day unless it is to promote her own causes. Then she snubs him again. The slime that she married is no better for cheating on his wife to begin with. Sorry haven't been able to vent like this in a while.... feels good..... LOL

  5. Well, I think it proves that we should be wary of putting celebs up on pedestals - even though we all do it (myself included) I have always respected Morgan Freeman as well - but thought it odd that only a few days after he was in a terrible car accident he revealed that he was getting a divorce - when it came out that the woman beside him was not his wife nor was it anyone who worked for him - but a "friend". Something does seem to be going on and at some point we'll probably get more details but I think it will taint how we see him because of the image he has created for himself. But then again - look at Woody Allen - he ended up marrying his step-adopted daughter - so how weird is that. Mind you it's the kind of thing that I think is well - sort of something Woody Allen would do. We always feel a loss of some sort when someone we admire falls from grace. And in Morgan Freeman's case if these allegations are true - then it's gonna be a long way down for the man who played God.

  6. Hey, HockeyVampiress, rant on, LOL. I know what you mean. Bad behaviour is condoned in Hollywood. Things people would never accept in their own relationships are excused when actors are involved. Like some of the ridiculously short marriages.

    Yes, Joanna--the whole divorce after the car accident with Morgan Freeman was very suspicious--where there's smoke there's fire. You hit the nail on the head when you said that we have to be wary of putting celebrities on pedestals. That's it in a nutshell. It will be a long fall if these allegations are true.

  7. I tend to separate the person from the performances and go from there. It disappoints me to hear about the bad behaviour, but does not surprise me, if you know what I mean. Succeeding in Hollywood is not for the faint of heart. If we're all watching someone on screen, no matter what the person's general demeanor, I suspect there is a hidden shark in there somewhere.

  8. That's probably a good plan, Julia. Then we won't be disappointed when the bad news hits the fan!

  9. Good blog Kayla, and you certainly have given your readers some food for thought. I have always admired Morgan Freeman as an actor too and I love many of his movies so I really hope that this allegation isn't true. I wouldn't boycott his movies though because there are other great actors in his movies as well and I'm not going to miss out on their performances.

    I'm also a huge fan of 24 and would never stop watching the show because Kiefer has a drinking problem which keeps landing him in hot water. I have empathy for Kiefer because he has a disease. However, being an alcoholic and having an affair for 10 years with your step-granddaughter are two entirely different things. I wouldn't call Morgan's alleged actions the result of a disease; but without more facts about the matter, I'd say they'd be the result of a morally unethical character. He made a sober decision to do what he did and in my mind, his decision was an unethical one.

    This has also made me think about Mel Gibson who used to be my favourite actor. I still love his movies and will still watch the ones he makes and the ones he may act in, in future, but I think the man needs serious help and I've lost a lot of respect for him as a person because of his bad behaviour in recent years. He's also an alcoholic but for some reason, I don't have the same amount of empathy for him as I do for Kiefer. I think it's because of Mel's publicized views on Catholicism which make me feel that he's a hypocrit. Mind you, he has owned up to his bad behaviour and paid the price for it as well with the breakdown of his marriage.

    I think what it comes down to for the most part is that actors are human beings too and as all human beings are, they're flawed. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that it's not wise to put actors/celebrities on too high a pedestal, no matter how great their talent, because they don't deserve it.

  10. I agree with the pedestal effect. We seem to forget these are people behind the stars.

    However, like you also said, there's a difference between a flaw (like run-ins with the law because you were drunk, like Kiefer) and a completely immoral thing, like the one being mentioned here. There are some things you can forgive everyone, such as drunk driving (as long as you don't kill anyone there!) or the shoplifting of Winona Ryder a few years back.

    But relationships where you are 'taking advantage' of a younger person or where you may be beating up an innocent are not to be condoned or even forgiven.

    I hope this isn't true about Morgan Freeman. Will definitely lose respect and though I may reckon he performs well in his movies, the awe factor will be completely lost.



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