Morgan Freeman explores humanity in NatGeo’s ‘The Story of Us’

Click to play video: 'Trailer: The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman'
Trailer: The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman
WATCH: Trailer: The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman – Oct 5, 2017

At a time when events seem to be driving cultures apart, Morgan Freeman goes on a global journey to understand how human culture has taken so many remarkable forms in the new six-part series, The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman.

The new series explores the fundamental forces that keep our societies together, while revealing the common humanity that lies inside each one of us.

Freeman — who’s been named on the Forbes “Most Trustworthy Celebrities” list each of the five times it has been published since 2006 — meets people from all over the globe to explore things such as the strength of belief, the thirst for power, how love shapes us and much more.

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The award-winning team behind The Story of God with Morgan Freeman is behind the new six-part series, including executive producers Lori McCreary and James Younger.

The show is produced by Freeman’s Revelations Entertainment and each of the six hour-long episodes will include a single fundamental force or topic such as the role conflict plays in our lives, the spirit of rebellion and the concept of freedom.

Global News spoke to Freeman, McCreay and Younger about The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman.

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Global News: Considering the state of the world right now, do you think this show is especially relevant?

Younger: Yes, absolutely. I mean, considering the state of the world, do you think this show is relevant?  I’d say that’s the reason why we did this series, is seeing all the cultural divides that are appearing across the world.

McCreary: Nationalism seems to be permeating through the world. For us, I think that as we were shooting this we started to even see more relevance to what we were doing.

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Younger: We have the increasing sense of tribalism in America. We have what’s happening in Myanmar with the Rohingya. You have this apparent fracturing of human society, at least, that’s what’s grabbing the headlines, and we wanted to just kind of explore what different cultures share. Human society is complex in that we tend to form together into these groups and it’s natural for us to say, well, we’re this tribe and you’re that tribe, so that’s part of our nature, in a way, to have that. What we have to remember is that by working together, that’s the way we move forward, and the more we can include other groups, the better society, the better the world will be.

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Global News: How many locations did you film in for this series?

Younger: Ireland, Germany, the U.S., Guatemala, Rwanda, U.K., Bolivia, Ethiopia, Panama, Bosnia and Kenya.  Eleven.  Northern Ireland, which is really part of the U.K., so it’s actually ten. Ten countries in 32 days.

Global News: Was there any location that stood out the most to you?

Freeman: Well, yes.  I thought for me, in a way, speaking for myself, we were in Ethiopia with the Hamar tribe. To be there with people who apparently have not changed their customs and ways of life over probably the history of human existence and they are living very primitively, very close to the ground, very conscious of the earth. We aren’t. We’re sitting in New York City on the 39th floor, a small island where people should live in the air and strive, struggle to exist with the—

Younger: Lack of elements.

Freeman: It’s the development of the human mind. These things I’m talking to you as if you’re sitting here, aren’t I, Kaitlyn?

Global News: Yes, absolutely.

Freeman: Yes, and you’re thousands of miles away. They can’t do that.

Younger: It was remarkable. They live in huts made of sticks. They’re almost like—what is the children thing about the wolf and the house and the pigs and they blow down their house of straw?

Freeman: Three Little Pigs. 

Younger: Yes, they live like that, and to see people living that way today is quite surprising to our Western—

Freeman: And they’re perfectly happy. So, that I find sobering.

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Global News: Do you think the viewers will be shocked about the amount of conflicts that happen within communities around the world, like the ones within the Ethiopian village and Northern Ireland [in the first episode]?
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Younger: By the amount of conflict, yes. My impression is most people have a pessimistic view, that most people think there’s probably more war, more conflict in the world, so I don’t think they’d be surprised to hear any of these stories. But I think we’re hoping that they’ll be surprised and pleased to find that people are finding resolutions to these conflicts. Really, we’re making this more about peace than war.

McCreary: I think they might be surprised to hear individual stories that they didn’t know about.  But I feel like we, at least in America, the conflict in Ireland has been well-documented, maybe not the definition. Maybe they won’t be familiar with that.  I think that the thing for me that’s interesting about the conflicts is not so much the conflicts but how they resolve them and have come in seven generations to this peace speech, basically the rites of peace. So, I think that hopefully people will be inspired even if they might be surprised to hear that there are conflicts in other societies.

‘The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman’ premieres Oct. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic.

Watch the trailer in the video, above.

[This interview has been edited and condensed.]
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