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Freeman, Damon inspired by film 'Invictus'

Hollywood Wrap with George Pennacchio
December 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
"Invictus" is the title of a Victorian era poem and the title of a new movie from director Clint Eastwood. The word means unconquered. Morgan Freeman had the honor of playing Nelson Mandela in the new fact-based drama. "Invictus" is a poem the South African leader was inspired by, and read often, while imprisoned for nearly three decades.

The Freeman and Mandela are old friends, and that meant added pressure for the actor.

"Absolutely, [he is] not just a friend of mine, but a friend of the planet. Get this one right or hang up your skates," said Freeman.

Matt Damon co-stars as the captain of the South African rugby team. The story is set in the mid-1990s, and highlights an important event in the country's history that helped bring blacks and whites together following the end of apartheid.

"It is a really uplifting true story, and I did want to put it out there in the hopes that it moved people," said Damon.

The film marks the third collaboration for Eastwood and Freeman.

"I find it just as easy as the first time. The first time we stepped on the stage together it just flowed like clear water, and it still does," said Freeman.

Eastwood was at the top of Damon's "wish list" of filmmakers he'd hoped would one day direct him.

"I expected a great deal from this experience, and from Clint and from Morgan playing this role, and I was just not disappointed at all," said Damon.

To help him remember the experience Damon hung onto a special piece of memorabilia from the film: his character's rugby jersey.

"I did keep one of them, I kept one and -- actually I kept two. I kept one and then there was one that all the guys signed, so I kept that one too," said Damon.

"Invictus" is rated PG-13 for some brief strong language. The film opens in theaters on Friday, Dec. 11.


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