Last year, Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman expanded upon his exquisite narration and hosting skills with National Geographic's docu-series The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, which saw him traveling around the world to speak with communities not just on the subject of God, but a wide variety of topics that connect with religion. The iconic actor, along with Story of God producers Lori McCreary and James Younger, graciously spoke with CinemaBlend to promote this week's Season 2 premiere, and here's what Freeman had to say when I asked about the biggest thing he'd learned on his journeys for the show.
I think the biggest thing is there is more commonality in the world of religion than there is difference. When you boil it all down, all religions look to improve the human condition. All religions offer hope for this life and an afterlife. All religions tend to act as the cement, the glue, that keeps societies together and moving forward. All of them do that. And so, that's the biggest thing I learned.
Morgan Freeman's role in The Story of God was a personal one, as the subjects of religion and spirituality intrigue him greatly, and not just because he's played God before. If you watched Season 1, you no doubt marveled at how beautiful the series looks, as all the countries Freeman traveled to are captured so pristinely, but you might not have internally considered what it must have been like for Freeman to go to so many different places to talk about religion, which is a difficult topic to bring up in nearly any setting. Sure, he's part of a TV show, so it's not like he's going out all touristy, but Freeman is still enveloping himself in different cultures in the public eye, which could easily result in confusion and confrontations.
So it's somewhat remarkable in and of itself that Morgan Freeman's biggest takeaway from filming two seasons of The Story of God is a note so positive, even if it isn't necessarily groundbreaking in profundity. Two people from across the globe might be extremely dissimilar when it comes to food appreciation, favorite films or sports, but religion allows for a common ground that ignores borders and oceans. At times like these here in the U.S., where politics has everyone drawing lines in the sand, it is probably nice to experience optimism like that on such a scale.
For all the cynics out there, me included, note that Morgan Freeman isn't claiming he learned that all religions get along or anything so hyperbolic. Like The Story of God, he isn't preachy when discussing religious subject matter, and a similar viewpoint was shared by producer James Younger when I asked about the effect of the episodes' pro-unity atmosphere on audiences.
The effect of that is that people have watched the show and gained understanding that people who seem different from them are actually like them in more ways than are dislike them. So I think that's a universal thing that you can apply to religion or any other sphere of human life.
James Younger is equally non-blatant in pointing out that even if your outlook isn't explicitly lined up with someone else's, there are still many parallels to be found. If you know someone isn't on your level, maybe seek out agreements rather than hindrances. Admittedly, our interview didn't get into exceptions to that, but there's always the Evil-themed episode.
If you still haven't caught up on Season 1 yet, or are looking for a lot more footage to watch, look no further than The Story of God's first season on DVD, which was only recently released on January 10. Not only there are longer interviews with those behind the scenes, but also an assortment of web series segments featuring Freeman; one in which he's speaking with people on the street, and one in which he's grouped a preacher, a rabbi and an imam for conversations. To purchase The Story of God Season 1 on DVD, just head to Amazon.