Morgan Freeman received the tribute of lifetime in New York on Monday when Hollywood stars including Robert De Niro and director Christopher Nolan presented him with the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Chaplin Award. Many of Freeman’s colleagues and collaborator’s from the past several decades helped present him with the film society’s only annual award, including Danny Glover, Helen Mirren and Matthew Broderick. “Morgan Freeman does not sound like God. God sounds like Morgan Freeman,” Broderick said, joining a long list of people who praised Freeman for the empathy and warmth expressed through his voice, in addition to his unrivaled skills as an actor and director.
De Niro, who recently got the chance to work alongside Freeman in “Last Vegas,” remarked that no other actor has had the opportunity to play better roles than Freeman. “I wish I had your career,” De Niro said. “You’re the president, you’re God, you’re Nelson Mandela, for god’s sake.”
“The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan, who was not present but spoke via a prerecorded video (standing in front of a mysterious map that led some attendees to speculate about the filmmaker’s next project) said directing Freeman has been one of the joys of his career. “Working with Morgan Freeman is one of most extraordinary displays of professionalism that a director could ever ask for,” Nolan said. “Everybody else on set simply raises their game when Morgan is around, which is wonderful in terms of the atmosphere of the motion picture you’re working on.”
Previous winners of the award, which was first given to Charlie Chaplin in 1972, include Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier, Michael Douglas, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Francis Ford Coppola, Mike Nichols, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Robert Altman, Federico Fellini, Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock.
“I worked to help keep Michael Keaton clean and sober, I turned Christian Bale into a very high-tech Batman, I drove Dan Aykroyd’s mother to school, I partied in Vegas with Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline and Mr. De Niro…worked to catch a killer with Brad Pitt, stopped a world epidemic with Dustin Hoffman and trained a prize fighter and rolled in westerns with Clint Eastwood,” Freeman said. “Knowing my name is now on a list that includes so many legends of cinema that I admire and venerate is something that I promise you I will cherish forever.”