“I refused”: The Shawshank Redemption Scene Morgan Freeman Called ‘Overkill’

“I refused”: The Shawshank Redemption Scene Morgan Freeman Called ‘Overkill’

Morgan Freeman didn’t agree with The Shawshank Redemption’s director’s vision for the film’s ending.

The Shawshank Redemption is one of Morgan Freeman’s career highlights, as the incredible prison drama not only earned him plenty of plaudits for his acting prowess but also brought his impeccable narration style to the fore.

Freeman in a still from the movie

Morgan Freeman.

Through Freeman’s narration, filmmaker Frank Darabont chronicled the journey of his character, Red, going from a pessimist to an optimist following his encounter with Andy Dufresne in the titular prison. His transformation is aptly marked by the movie’s uplifting ending that sees him reunite with Andy outside the prison. However, Darabont had slightly different plans for the ending, only for Freeman to intervene.

Why Morgan Freeman Convinced The Shawshank Redemption Director to Alter One Scene

The Shawshank Redemption follows the friendship between two convicts, Andy and Red. Tim Robbins‘ character is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover.

Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption

Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption.

Andy, who is the only one who knows he didn’t commit those crimes, finds consolation and will for redemption after forming a bond with Morgan Freeman‘s Red. He secretly plans his escape through a hole in his cell hidden by a movie poster. He also leaves details for Red to find him on the beaches of Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

After being granted parole, Red reunites with his friend, bringing the curtain down on their journey. The uplifting ending is central to The Shawshank Redemption’s status as a classic. However, Darabont wasn’t always sure about how to end the story.

As per Far Out Magazine, the initial idea was to end the movie on the ambiguous note of Red on the bus to Mexico. But after test screenings, the director decided to give it a more definitive finale.

Freeman was on board with giving viewers a final answer but he felt the filmmaker’s idea of blowing harmonica was “overkill”.

“Frank thought I should be blowing that harmonica that Andy gave me, and I refused,” he told The Daily News (via Far Out Magazine), describing it as “sort of asinine, sort of cliched, sort of unnecessary, and overkill.”

We don’t know how Darabont’s idea would’ve played out on the big screen and been received by fans, but there’s no doubt the final cut is one of the best film endings of all time. And Freeman certainly deserves credit for ensuring the same.

Why Morgan Freeman Didn’t Want to Do The Shawshank Redemption

The 1994 hit, which is the highest-rated movie of all time on IMDb, is based on the 1982 Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption

Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption.

In King’s work, Red was a red-headed Irishman, which the director changed in his adaptation by casting Freeman. However, initially, the Seven star didn’t like the idea of playing the character originally meant to be Irish.

As per Yahoo!, after reading King’s novella, Freeman thought, “I can’t play an Irishman.”

Fortunately, he did play the character and even earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.