One of the most legendary Hollywood actors was honored in a big way at the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Morgan Freeman, 80, received the life achievement award at the ceremony this year for his work in film, in addition to his humanitarian accomplishments. His Electric Company costar Rita Moreno, who is an EGOT winner, presented him the honor, which Freeman presented to her back in 2013.
“Morgan is more than just an actor, producer humanitarian — this man is a national treasure,” Moreno, 86, said before the video montage dedicated to Freeman’s career.
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Even before taking the stage, Freeman was greeted with a standing ovation from the star-studded audience — and the cheers intensified, even more, when he headed to accept the honor.
“Morgan, lift up your hat,” instructed Moreno, who wanted to make sure the audience was able to see his face.
“You have no idea how long I’ve had to put with that,” Freeman joked before starting his speech.
“This is beyond an honor. This is a place in history. Oh, and one more thing, I wasn’t going to do this. I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with this statue, it works from the back, from the front it’s gender specific. Maybe I started something.”
After winning a statewide drama competition in Mississippi at age 12, Freeman went on to perform in small parts before serving in the U.S. Air Force, eventually graduating to film and television roles in his subsequent career in Hollywood, which has resulted in over $4.5 billion in cumulative worldwide ticket sales.
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In addition to his work on screens big and small — namely in movies like Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy — Freeman has embarked on several philanthropic ventures. In 1973, he co-founded the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop in support of black playwrights, and he continues to contribute to Artists for a New South Africa and the Campaign for Female Education.
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The prestigious award has been given to esteemed members of the industry elite in the recent past, including Ernest Borgnine in 2010, Mary Tyler Moore in 2011, Dick Van Dyke in 2012, Moreno in 2013, Debbie Reynolds in 2014, and Carol Burnett in 2015. Lily Tomlin received the honor at last year’s ceremony.
The 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards was broadcast live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on both TNT and TBS.