The project fell into Freeman’s lap almost three years ago. While Carlin was writing Playing the Enemy, he visited Mississippi to do research on an article he was writing on poverty in the South. Carlin was referred to Freeman’s business partner Bill Luckett as a possible resource for the story. “As luck and providence causes these things to happen, Bill and John bumped into each other on the Mississippi highway?—?not literally, of course,” Freeman says. “John called Bill and told him that he was in Oxford and on his way to Clarksdale near where my ranch is located. Bill had left Memphis heading to Clarksdale, and I was just leaving Los Angeles traveling back there as well.”
The three converged at the local airport, and that night Carlin told them the story of the famous rugby match in South Africa. “Around the same time an agent contacted my producing partner, Lori McCreary, with the book treatment that John had sent to me. We agreed that we wanted to try to get this made, and through our friend, producer Mace Neufeld, [we] hired Tony Peckman to write the script. He delivered an absolutely amazing screenplay, so Lori and I decided to send it to Clint and asked him if he would be interested in directing the project. He said ‘yes’ after reading it. We took it to Warner Bros., which houses both of our production companies, and they said ‘yes’ as well.”
Invictus is the third collaboration between Freeman and Eastwood. Freeman costarred with Eastwood in his 1992 classic western Unforgiven, which garnered four Oscars, including those for Best Picture and Best Director. More than a decade later, he portrayed Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris, a washed-up boxer, in the Eastwood-directed Million Dollar Baby, winning his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The story of a female boxer who gets her chance for success in the ring also received Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress.
Cowboys and Indians
Jan. 12 Issue