Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman has portrayed God on the big screen, but his latest TV project dives much deeper into the concept of the Almighty, taking viewers on an exploration of the most pressing issues surrounding heaven, hell and eschatology, among other related subjects.
Freeman told TheBlaze in a recent interview that the idea for his National Geographic Channel series titled, "The Story of God With Morgan Freeman" originated about six or seven years ago when he and fellow executive producer Lori McCreary were in Istanbul. It was there that they learned for the first time that "Jesus is part of Islamic religious tradition," and is considered a prophet by Muslims.
"This was news to the two of us," Freeman said, going on to quip, "File that up and chalk it up to total ignorance."
That lesson planted a seed, though, sticking with both him and McCreary. Later, when Freeman started working on his "Through the Wormhole" series, tackling subjects like creation and the afterlife, he and his team — drawing on the Islam example to conclude that there is much in the faith world that people are likely unaware of — started setting the groundwork for "The Story of God."
Hear more about the series — and listen to Freeman's response when asked what God means to him — below at the 52:30 mark:
Freeman, who discussed gaining quite a bit of knowledge throughout the filming of the series, also said that he didn't feel as though the project changed his personal perspective on faith or the Almighty.
"Nothing in me or my sense of faith or belief changed as a result of this project," he said. "Personally, I don't feel there was a change in me."
As for any of the details or information that he learned that was the most shocking or intriguing, Freeman cited his realization that he is essentially a follower of Zoroastrianism — one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world that was founded by Iranian prophet Zoroaster in the 6th century B.C.
Encyclopedia Britannica has more about the 3,500-year-old religion:
Though Zoroastrianism was never, even in the thinking of its founder, as aggressively monotheistic as, for instance, Judaism or Islam, it does represent an original attempt at unifying under the worship of one supreme god a polytheistic religion comparable to those of the ancient Greeks, Latins, Indians, and other early peoples.
Its other salient feature, namely dualism, was never understood in an absolute, rigorous fashion. Good and Evil fight an unequal battle in which the former is assured of triumph. God’s omnipotence is thus only temporarily limited. In this struggle man must enlist because of his capacity of free choice. He does so with his soul and body, not against his body, for the opposition between good and evil is not the same as the one between spirit and matter.
Freeman said that he was surprised to find that he aligned with the sentiments of this theological worldview.
"I didn't know anything about Zoroastrianism," the actor told TheBlaze. "That kind of shocked me, mainly because I didn't know anything about it and when I found about it, I found out I was one of its followers."
He had earlier said the following in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph: "It's one of the ancient philosophies. It is based on three basic tenets, good thoughts, good words, good deeds. That covers pretty much all of us."
The actor also went on to offer up an intriguing perspective when asked what God means to him, and what comes to mind if and when he considers the concept of the Almighty.
"In the Ten Commandments there was one commandment that said, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me,'" he responded. "I buy that."
While Freeman didn't elaborate, he previously made headlines in 2012 for saying, "I am God" during an interview with Fox411.
Fox411: Do you think there is a God?
[Morgan Freeman]: Do I think there’s a God? Um (pause) yeah.
Fox411: You paused.
MF: I paused because I am God.
Fox411: Because every man is created in God’s image.
MF: Yes or God’s created in my image.
Perhaps there is a relation between the commandment he cited — "no other gods before me" — and his previous comments, though, as we noted back in 2012, the details surrounding exactly what he believes are somewhat murky.
Actor Morgan Freeman attends the LA Premiere of "London Has Fallen" on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Freeman's six-part "The Story of God" miniseries, which premieres on April 3, will tackle the afterlife, the end of days, creation, the question of who God is, evil and miracles — subjects that the actor is hoping will get the audience pondering and thinking about theology more broadly.
"The hope is that audiences will take away from this a realization that in all of human existence, we all are seeking the same answers," he said. "We're all asking the same questions, we all pretty much have the same quest.
Although everyone takes different roads, the actor said that every human is simply trying to find the meaning of life.
Follow the author of this story on Twitter and Facebook: