Ever since Morgan Freeman spent “the longest night of [his] life” in Shawshank Prison as “Red” (“Maybe it’s because I’m Irish,”) narrating the travails of Andy Dufresne, he has been a sought-after voiceover artist.
The Shawshank Redemption was in 1994. Prior to that, Freeman had filled Shakesperean roles in Julius Caesar and Coriolanus, a hard-hitting school principal in Lean on Me, Robin Hood’s right-hand man alongside Kevin Costner, and his career-high turn as Easy Reader on PBS’ The Electric Company.
But it was Shawshank that launched Freeman’s voice into the realm of narration and voiceover. He has narrated movies and television series. He is the voice of Visa credit cards. And in 2003, he got to be God in Bruce Almighty.
It has long been a gimmick for talk show hosts and other jokesters to get Freeman on their show to read or recite things. The odder the material the better. In fact, Freeman’s voice ranks right up there with William Shatner in terms of comic effect of the narration when applied to oddball scripts.
Far more often, a voice actor who can approximate Freeman has been used to read all manner of strange material, such as this excerpt from Fifty Shades of Grey.
So, it was only to be expected that Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon would have his turn at getting Freeman to do some talking on his show. But Fallon had a little twist to add to the proceedings. He pulled out two red balloons, both filled with helium, and asked his guest to huff the gas with him to get that well-known comical voice effect.
Freeman played along. And the result was late-night comedy gold.
Image via YouTube