‘The Shawshank Redemption’: Morgan Freeman Threw a Baseball for 9 Hours Straight While Filming the Opening Scene With Tim Robbins

The Shawshank Redemption was never one of Stephen King’s most popular stories. While it struck a chord with many fans, it didn’t have the viscera or horror that It or Pet Sematary. It did have Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins, Frank Darabont, and a cast and crew who endured hardships to make one of the most beloved movies of all time. However, that love sometimes came at the cost of pain.

‘Shawshank’s’ journey

The Shawshank story and its adaptation focus on a former banker and accused murderer named Andy Dufresne, who finds himself in the fictional prison after his wife was found dead with another lover. However, the film is less about senseless murder than it is about the prison system. Dufresne meets a collection of innocent and guilty men who have unique stories of violence, redemption, and punishment.

Yahoo! notes how one of these characters, Red, is an Irish-American smuggler in the books. Still, when Morgan Freeman put his hat into the ring, he became a middle-aged African American in the movie adaptation. The film propelled Freeman to the A-list over twenty years after his grand debut on The Electric Company. However, when the film was in production, Freeman didn’t always have the time of his life.

One scene, in particular, where Red plays baseball as he talks to Dufresne, was a nine-hour ordeal in which Freeman’s easy-going attitude helped forge one of the most famous scenes in the movie while injuring his arm in the process. 

Morgan Freeman’s sports injury

Freeman and Robbins’ first scene together is an important, albeit simple, meet-up between two strangers. Andy approaches Red with questions about smuggling, and a bond is forged while Red plays baseball with another nearby prisoner. However, it’s this team-up that eventually gets both Andy and Red out of prison and into each other’s lives for goods.

The scene is several minutes long and not the first one people may think of when it comes to on-set injuries. Freeman, who is left-handed in real life, showed up to work the next day with his arm in a sling. According to everyone on set, the actor didn’t complain once, quietly throwing the ball through intense pain. However, Freeman was so dedicated to his craft that the nine-hour ordeal caused damage to his left arm.

Freeman eventually recovered, but AL notes that he later learned some things right-handed after a 2008 car crash caused permanent damage to his dominant arm. Luckily for Freeman, he recovered. However, the story of that long day on set shows why he remains one of the hardest-working actors in Hollywood. However, the on-set problems didn’t stop there. 

The ‘Shawshank’ Frustration

The Shawshank set didn’t just feel like an endless prison because of what was happening on screen. The set was fraught with disputes between director Frank Darabont, the studio heads, and anyone else. They filmed in unforgiving conditions in an environment that Darabont called strange. However, in a 2019 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Robbins said that the arduous journey made the ultimate pay-off even sweeter.

Much like Dufresne, the cast and crew had to wade through uncomfortable waters to reach their ultimate goal, and much like Dufresne, they ultimately succeeded.

“I love this film because it really earns this moment,” Robbins told the magazine. “It gets there through a long journey of patience and faith and hope. I think that’s why it’s lasted for as long as it has.”

While Stephen King may be the master of horror, few of his adaptations hold the special place that Shawshank does in the hearts of both his biggest fans and those who only know the movie. From Freeman’s arm to Darabont’s temper and Robbins’ unrelenting escape scene, the film was a labor of love and frustration. As such, every moment on screen pays off in a unique, intriguing way.

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