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Last Updated: Monday, 27 February 2006, 13:08 GMT
Brokeback timing key says Freeman
Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman has no intention of retiring in the near future
Oscar winner Morgan Freeman has said Brokeback Mountain could be the big winner at this year's Academy Awards because it is "flavour of the month".

"Brokeback Mountain is this year's right subject at the right time, which is all that counts," Freeman, 68, told the Radio Times.

"I liked the movie... but I wouldn't choose it over Capote or Philip Seymour Hoffman, he added.

Freeman won the best supporting actor Oscar in 2005 for Million Dollar Baby.

Betting

Brokeback Mountain is the favourite to win Best Picture according to bookmakers William Hill, with odds of 1/6.

The film's director Ang Lee is also tipped to win best director at 1/12.

But best actor favourite is Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote at 1/7, while Reese Witherspoon is odds-on at 2/7 to win best actress for her role in Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line.

Paul Giametti is 5/6 to win best supporting actor for Cinderella Man. British hopeful Rachel Weisz is favourite to pick up the best supporting actress award at 4/11.

Freeman said he was not sure if he was worthy of winning his best supporting actor award for his role as an ex-fighter in Million Dollar Baby, after losing three previous nominations.

Confident

"I knew I'd win. They should have given it to me before so it was about time... it was a great story, a wonderful ensemble. I deserved it for other films, but not necessarily for that."

Freeman believes the "best" tag attached to the various Oscar awards is not helpful.

"The danger is buying into this 'best' idea. I realise it's to sell movies - otherwise I'd campaign to get it stopped.

"It would make more sense to give awards for five outstanding performances. At least you wouldn't get four actors walking away thinking they're failures," he said.

Freeman, who stars alongside Josh Hartnett and Sir Ben Kingsley in his latest film Lucky Number Slevin, is developing a World War II story about a tank battalion that spent 183 days on the frontline in France.

Historian

"They were cannon fodder and nobody hears about these guys because they were black. There's no-one to blame but us. It's not prejudice. People write about their own kind."

He also refuses to call himself an African-American.

"My ancestors are probably longer in this country than many Europeans who don't call themselves European-Americans. Why would I want to identify with Africa?" he said.

Radio Times
The Freeman interview appears in the 4-10 edition

"The other part of history that's misrepresented is most blacks who came here in chains were chained in Africa by Africans - not by Europeans," he added.

Many of his roles, including the chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy (1989) and a pimp in Street Smart (1987), have seen him play the noble, dignified black man and have opened him up to accusations of being an Uncle Tom cliche.

"I can't blame anyone but myself. I accepted the roles," Freeman said.

The star, who has four children to three different women, has never been offered a romantic part.

"I've worked with white actresses, but movies have not got into those relationships in any serious sense. I'm loath to say it's racism. It's probably fear that a large proportion of American audiences won't welcome it."

He said he has never encountered prejudice.

"I haven't had to work harder as a black actor. It's all pure luck, and making the right choices."

A simulcast of post-Oscars reaction will run on BBC World and BBC News 24 At 0930GMT on Monday 6 March. It will be repeated at 1330GMT and 1930GMT on BBC Word only. Oscar coverage will also be shown on BBC Breakfast on Thursday 2, Friday 3 and Monday 6 March.




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