On this day in 1994, The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, opens in theaters around the United States. Based on a short story titled “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” by the best-selling author Stephen King, the movie followed the story of a man named Andy Dufresne (Robbins) who is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife and her lover. Behind bars, Andy forms a friendship with Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Freeman), a longtime inmate known for his ability to “get things,” or smuggle contraband into the prison. The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Actor (Freeman) and Best Picture (it lost to Forrest Gump). Frank Darabont, who wrote and directed The Shawshank Redemption, also helmed The Green Mile (1999) and The Mist (2007), both of which were based on books by King.
Tim Robbins, born on October 16, 1958, made his breakthrough film performance as the up-and-coming minor league pitcher Nuke LaLoosh in 1988’s Bull Durham. The movie co-starred Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon, who would become Robbins’ longtime partner. Robbins went on to appear in Robert Altman’s The Player (1992) and Bob Roberts (1992), which also marked his screenwriting and directing debut. In 1995, he wrote and directed Dead Man Walking, which co-starred Sarandon and Sean Penn. The film, a provocative look at capital punishment, earned Robbins an Oscar nomination for Best Director and won Sarandon the statuette for Best Actress. Among Robbins’ other movie credits as an actor are Arlington Road (1999) and Catch a Fire (2006). He collected an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Mystic River (2003). Robbins and Sarandon, who have two sons together, are known for their political and social activism.
Morgan Freeman, born on June 1, 1937, gained notice in the 1980s with Street Smart (1987), for which he received a Best Supporting Actor nomination; the Civil War drama Glory (1988); and Driving Miss Daisy (1988), for which he earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role as the chauffeur Hoke Colburn. Freeman’s long list of hit movies includes Lean on Me (1989), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Unforgiven (1991), Se7en (1995), Kiss the Girls (1997), and Bruce Almighty (2002). He won his first Academy Award, for Best Supporting Actor, for Million Dollar Baby (2003). More recently, the prolific Freeman narrated the hit 2005 documentary March of the Penguins (2005), co-starred opposite Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List (2007) and appeared in Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), the latest two installments of the super hero franchise.