Over a nearly six-decade career in show business, Morgan Freeman has grown into one of the best-respected figures in modern American cinema. Renowned for his distinct voice, calming presence, and perpetual gravitas, Freeman’s been the recipient of countless accolades for his work on stage and screen, including an Oscar, Golden Globe, Kennedy Center Honor, the AFI Life Achievement Award, Cecil B. DeMille Award, and three Obies, one of the most prestigious honors for recognizing excellence in off-Broadway theater.

Born in Memphis in 1937, Freeman turned his attention to acting after a disappointing stint in the air force. In 1967 he made his Broadway debut in an all-Black production of Hello Dolly! and continued to work on stage before rising to fame for his role as Easy Rider in the 1970s educational children’s TV series The Electric Company.

Freeman caught his break playing a hustler in 1987’s Street Smart, and achieved superstardom in the ’90s for memorable turns in the prison drama Shawshank Redemption and David Fincher’s crime thriller Se7en. Subsequent successes include a knockout performance in the 2004 sports drama Million Dollar Baby, his portrayal of former South African President Nelson Mandela in 2009’s Invictus, and the recurring role of Batman father figure Lucius Fox in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.

Sharing the books of his life in an interview with the New York Post, Freeman spoke of first picking up Anna Sewell’s equestrian classic in the radio-dominated 1940s, and the tide-turning experience of reading Melville’s Moby-Dick. Find his five favorites below, and check out the bookshelves of other famous actors right here.

The Bible (also rec’d by Brandi Carlile, Carl SaganLeonard CohenMartin Luther King Jr.Maya AngelouMr. RogersNick CavePenn Jillette & Vincent van Gogh)

“It’s just an interesting read. Genesis is the best part.” -MF

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (also rec’d by Christiane Amanpour)

“It was the first book I read. I don’t recall if it was a librarian who [suggested it] or if I just stumbled on it, but the idea of reading a book – not a comic book – was part of it. This was in the ’40s, when all we had for entertainment was radio and the movies, so reading was a big deal.” -MF

At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Peter Matthiessen

“He’s a terrific writer and I liked the subject matter – the attempt to spread the Baptist religion around the world, and the damage it can do.” -MF

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (also rec’d by Bob DylanBruce SpringsteenJohn IrvingNorman MailerPatti SmithPenn JilletteRay BradburySteve Jobs, Susan Orlean & Tilda Swinton)

“This classic instilled an interest in sailing and began my lifelong love of the sea.” -MF

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (also rec’d by Hillary Clinton)

“Some of the best writers are women writers – Barbara Kingsolver, Joyce Carol Oates. They just don’t get enough play.” -MF

(via The New York Post)

Categories: Actors