Morgan Freeman By Antonia Pearce

Morgan Freeman’s Southern charm was out in spades in Dubrovnik – just don’t call him a legend….

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman greeted the press on the sunlit terrace of The Excelsior Hotel, with Dubrovnik’s Old Town appearing majestic behind him. Surrounded by white roses and Croatia’s premier television crews eager to capture him – Freeman arrived very much the super-star (aviator sunglasses and all).

Dubrovnik has become one of the most popular tourism destinations and its ability to draw such a high profile celebrity is a powerful indication of its rising status. Both Kevin Spacey and Mickey Rourke have been guests of honour at the Adriatic Luxury Hotels’ Film Festival, all of whom stayed in the hotel’s private residence – the elegant Villa Agave.

For his part, Freeman was glad to be on the Adriatic coast where he could indulge in his passion for sailing. Prior to this trip ‘‘the closest I have got to these waters is the English Channel.’’ Freeman planned to go out on a boat whilst in town and joined the managing director and founder of Adriatic Luxury Hotels, Goran Strok, on his yacht for a day-trip excursion.

In fact, when asked by The Luxury Channel what his aspirations both professionally and personally were for the future, he announced that sailing is his big passion. ‘‘I love sailing. One year in Grenada, I took a forty-four foot boat from there to Puerto Rico – that’s the level of my confidence. The Caribbean is my stomping ground,’’ he told us, his eyes beaming in delight. His other passion is producing and, of course, acting. The latter he finds easy and fun, the former, time-consuming yet worthwhile.

Freeman was also keen to emphasize that he is just a ‘‘common guy from Mississippi.’’ The rest is down to ‘‘luck.’’ He said: ‘‘I am a sailor – I like to sail by myself. I do not want to accept that this is my due. You have to keep a firm grip on who you really are.’’ The word ‘‘legend is not conducive to a stable life.’’

Freeman particularly enjoyed working with Clint Eastwood, who directed Invictus. ‘‘Clint is an actors’ dream;’’ he ‘‘directs movies, not actors, and steps back, not forward, taking two or three takes, no more than is necessary – he’s astute, considerate. I like that.’’ Freeman plays Nelson Mandela in Invictus. When asked if it is difficult to play such a person, he replied: ‘‘It is easy if you can learn their rhythm. What I worried most about was trying to sound like him.’’

Freeman, in his dignified presence, with his freckled face and kind eyes, is something to behold, but it is his voice that is truly masterful. ‘‘I started acting when I was eight years old’’ where ‘‘a voice teacher taught us to relax our vocal chords. Every final consonant had to be emphasised.’’ At this point in the press conference, every journalist seemed to have fallen for his Southern charm and was keen to see the man in action. So it was off to an outdoor screening of Invictus at The Dubrovnik Palace Hotel. At midnight, Freeman received a standing ovation under the Croatian stars.