Freeman finally scooped an Oscar in 2005
Film actor Morgan Freeman has become renowned for his distinct, authoritative voice and calm on-screen persona - and as one of the most steadfast figures in Hollywood.
The Memphis-born 71-year-old finally triumphed at the Oscars in 2005 for his role in Million Dollar Baby, but his success was relatively late-blooming.
In the 1950s he worked as a mechanic in the US air force, later becoming a transcript clerk at Los Angeles Community College, which gave him access to free dance and theatre classes.
His initial screen roles were uncredited appearances in the mid-1960s, while Freeman also worked on stage, including an all African-American production of Hello Dolly in 1969.
The actor initially gained exposure on the small screen in soap operas and on children's TV, notably The Electric Company where he played a range of characters including Count Dracula and the Mad Scientist.
Freeman's Hollywood star did not begin to rise until the 1980s, when he appeared in a string of films which varied in quality.
It was for the 1987 movie Street Smart - in which he played a tough pimp - that Freeman landed his first Oscar nomination.
Freeman starred opposite Brad Pitt in Se7en
Two years later, he was again lauded for his role in Driving Miss Daisy as the quiet, wise chauffeur to Jessica Tandy's cantankerous pensioner.
The 1990s saw his familiar figure grace a series of big-hitting films, including Clint Eastwood's Western Unforgiven.
In 1994, Freeman's role in The Shawshank Redemption garnered him another Oscar nomination, playing another quiet, assured role opposite Tim Robbins.
A year later, he was the mature presence alongside Brad Pitt as the pair hunted down a serial killer in the gory, downbeat Se7en.
Freeman has never shied away from appearing in box office blockbusters, including 1998's Deep Impact.
Freeman has become an established Hollywood figure
A decade later, he is in cinemas as Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight - a film which is on its way to becoming one of the biggest-grossing movies of all time.
While the actor is renowned for his understated demeanour, he has dabbled in comedy, dispensing divine advice as God to Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty.
And there were droll moments as he teamed up with Jack Nicholson in 2008's The Bucket List, as the terminally ill pair went about fulfilling their wishes before it was too late.
With his dulcet tones, Freeman has developed a reputation as a voice-over artist, famously lending himself to hit documentary March of The Penguins.
The actor has also voiced a number of American historical and commemorative documentaries.
Freeman's stature is so assured that he has been chosen to play Nelson Mandela in The Human Factor, which is due to be released next year.