Morgan Freeman was honoured on Monday night by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, at its 43rd Annual Chaplin Award Gala, sponsored by Jaeger-LeCoultre.
The Academy Award-winning actor follows other luminaries including Charlie Chaplin, for whom the award is named, and who was the first recipient in 1972, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Laurence Olivier, Federico Fellini, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sidney Poitier, Barbra Streisand, and Robert Redford.
Chaplin’s granddaughter, actress Kiera Chaplin, was present, representing her family. Daniel Riedo, Jaeger LeCoultre’s CEO, and Laurent Vinay, its communications’ director, represented their company. Other actors present included Robert de Niro and Helen Mirren.
Freeman told Reuters, ‘I’m from a small town in a small state and when you start thinking about where you came from and looking back the first thing that comes to mind is the word luck.’
In an earlier statement, Ann Tenenbaum, chair of the Film Society of Lincoln Centerâs board, said of Freeman, ‘He is one of the most gifted actors of our time and his body of work has changed the film landscape. He is universally loved as an actor and as a humanitarian, and we are thrilled to add the Chaplin to the long list of distinguished awards he has already received.’
âMorgan Freeman is one of most highly regarded and beloved actors of his generation and we are excited to honour all of his achievements with the Chaplin Award, our biggest fundraiser of the year, which recognizes those whose mastery of their craft has made an impact on the art of film,’ said the Film Society of Lincoln Centerâs executive director Lesli Klainberg. ‘Whether in a leading or supporting role, he brings a quiet gravitas to each of his memorable performances in such films as Lean on Me and Driving Miss Daisy to Street Smart, The Shawshank Redemption, Seven, Million Dollar Baby, and Invictus.’
Freeman began his acting career in off-Broadway stage productions of The Niggerlovers and an all African-American production of Hello Dolly. Early TV appearances in The Electric Company followed, before he moved into film. He also has an extensive filmography in narration (The Long Way Home and March of the Penguins among it). In 2005, he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Million Dollar Baby, and received nominations for Street Smart, The Shawshank Redemption, and Invictus. He won a Golden Globe for Best Actor for Driving Miss Daisy in 1990. He received the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the 2011 Golden Globes and the 39th AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.
Freeman is executive producer of Madam Secretary and host and executive producer of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. He will soon be seen in The Story of God with Morgan Freeman on the National Geographic Channel.
Upcoming films include London Has Fallen, Going in Style, Now You See Me 2 and Ben-Hur.
Freeman co-founded the Frank Silvera Writersâ Workshop, which serves successful playwrights, is a member of the board of directors of Earth Biofuels, and a supporter of Artists for a New South Africa and the Campaign for Female Education.