Morgan Freeman Ponders Life’s Great Mysteries

June 3, 2015

Morgan Freeman’s voice has become synonymous with wisdom—and he’s added that gravitas to Through the Wormhole. The physics meets philosophy show tackles all manner of big life questions, putting them in terms that even we less cerebral folks can understand (Imagine the universe as a chocolate factory.). We asked the man behind the trusted voice what he’s learned in six seasons of the show, and what’s to come this season as he explores the mysteries of our very existence.

The show tackles some of life’s biggest questions. What’s the process of deciding which topics to include? How involved are you in the decisions?
Morgan Freeman: We have a brain trust involved in developing each new season. Producers who’ve worked on the show for years have ideas. Our great collaborating team at the network throws in ideas. And I always throw in an idea or two of my own. This year, it was on the origin of life. That ended up becoming quite a different show: Are We Here for a Reason?

What topics were you hoping to include this season that didn’t make the cut?
MF: We were looking into infinity… but I guess we couldn’t figure out how to fit it all into one hour of TV!

The show has certainly looked into “controversial” subjects before, but this season, you’re taking on one that’s particularly resonant now—whether or not we’re all bigots. Why do you think it’s important to look at the science behind issues like this one?
MF: It’s important because the science tells us that we are all hardwired to be bigots. Our minds are riddled with stereotypes. We may not consciously believe them, but we use them every day to make quick decisions. So, these prejudices are something we all have to work to overcome.

What do you hope people take away from the episode?
MF: I think that highlighting the scientific fact that our brains are affected by bias helps make the question of bigotry and racism more personal for all of us. It gets it out in the open. We need to be conscious of it, and that’s the beginning of change.

Other topics this season include why we lie, if time can go backward, if we live in the Matrix, and more. Which one is your favorite, and why?
MF: Do we live a computer-simulated reality? That is such a fascinating idea: our entire cosmos could exist inside the computer of an advanced alien. And scientifically, it’s entirely possible.

Do you have a favorite from the entire series so far?
MF: I don’t have a single favorite episode, there’ve been so many great ideas. But I did really enjoy one from last season back: Does the Ocean Think? Is the ocean not just full of life, but actually a single living, thinking, being?

In interviews, you’ve talked about how curious you are, how much you like to learn stuff—and how the show is a great tool to do that. What’s the coolest or most surprising thing you’ve learned in the process of making Through the Wormhole?
MF: Zombies are real! There is a species of ant whose brain gets attacked by a fungus. And that fungus actually turns them into walking dead zombies, whose sole purpose is to spread the fungus to other ants.

Don’t miss Through the Wormhole, Wednesday at 10/9c on Science Channel (Ch. 284).

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