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Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’. That's goddamn right.
~ Red

Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding is the deuteragonist and current narrator of the 1994 drama film The Shawshank Redemption. He is a prisoner and a smuggler incarcerated in Shawshank Penitentiary, where he meets new inmate Andy Dufresne, a banker wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover.

He is portrayed by Morgan Freeman, who also portrayed William Somerset in Se7en, Lucius Fox in the Dark Knight Trilogy, God in Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty, and Vitruvius in The Lego Movie.


In 1947, Shawshank Penitentiary prisoner Ellis "Red" Redding gets rejected by the parole board after 20 years of a life sentence for murder. He is the self-proclaimed "only guilty man in Shawshank"; he admits to having committed a double homicide, for which he feels great remorse. After getting rejected, he walks outside to see a new load of prisoners coming to Shawshank. He and his fellow prisoners begin to bet which prisoners will crack during their first night. Red bets on Andy Dufresne, a banker convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. During the new prisoner's first night, however, Andy does not crack, and Red loses the bet.

A month after Andy's incarceration, Red is greeted by Andy and asks him to smuggle in a rock hammer for rock crafting. Red manages to get Andy a rock hammer and a Rita Hayworth poster. The two eventually become best friends.

Andy then plays music all over Shawshank, hes punished for it. After his release, Andy explains that hope is what gets him through his time, a concept that Red dismisses. Tommy Williams comes to prison for burglary, Red and Andy befriend him, Andy also help him with reading. One day, Tommy tells his friends that he had an inmate brag about his crime and one of them, he confirms himselfs as Andy's wife true killer. Andy approaches the warden but he denies it and kills Tommy for it.

After Andy is punished again for two months, he tells a skeptical Red that he dreams of living in Zihuatanejo. Andy also tells him of a specific hayfield near Buxton, asking Red once he is released to retrieve a package that Andy buried there. Red worries about Andy's well being, especially when he learns Andy asked a fellow inmate for 6 ft of rope. Andy then escapes Shawshank with some of Norton stuff.

Next day when The Warden sees it, he tells his men to find him immediatly. However, he then finds a tunnel which Andy used to escape in. The police come in Shawshank one day to arrest Hadley and Norton for corruption but Norton commits suicide.

Red finally gets out of Shawshank after serving for 40 years. He struggles to adapt to life outside prison and fears that he never will. Remembering his promise to Andy, he visits Buxton and finds a cache containing money and a letter asking him to come to Zihuatanejo. Red violates his parole by traveling to Fort Hancock, Texas and crossing the border into Mexico, admitting that he finally feels hope. He finds Andy on a beach in Zihuatanejo, and the two reunited friends happily embrace.


  • In the novel Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, he is described as a middle-aged Irish man with greying red hair and the producers of the movie even looked into various white actors. But the director wanted Morgan Freeman for the role.
  • This is Morgan Freeman's favorite film he acted in.


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