By Jessica Rettig, Washington Whispers
He plays Nelson Mandela in the film Invictus, so Morgan Freeman knows something about lining up the right actor to portray historical figures. And during a stop in Washington last night to promote the film, which he still hasn't seen, the talk naturally turned to who should play President Obama.
Without a pause, Freeman suggested dishy Denzel Washington. "Denzel. Denzel could pull it off quite nicely. You would totally believe him." President Obama made the same suggestion during his campaign in 2008, but said that due to his own big ears, Will Smith might be a better option. We guess that first lady Michelle Obama would be happy with either.
Freeman was in town to screen the movie at National Geographic and participate in a Q&A hosted by MSNBC's Chris Matthews. The film, directed by Clint Eastwood and also starring an athletic Matt Damon, tells the story of how Mandela united a post-apartheid South Africa by promoting the nation's rugby team in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Freeman, who pushed for the project himself, said he always knew he would play Mandela after the former president of South Africa once chose Freeman as the actor he would most like to portray him. Despite the forewarning, Freeman said he didn't do anything to prepare for the role until three days before filming began. He crammed, studying Mandela's accent, expressions, and walk by watching video tapes of the leader. Native South Africans in the audience told Freeman that his accent was spot-on; one said he couldn't even tell the difference.