“This man is a national treasure,” said Rita Moreno before presenting the Life Achievement Award to Morgan Freeman at tonight’s SAG Awards. The Oscar-winning actor stepped on stage as the 54th recipient of the honor, wearing a hip baseball cap. But before he spoke, Moreno said, “Lift your cap up…now they can see you.”
“You see what I had to put up with?” Freeman joked. Moreno and Freeman are friends and Electric Company colleagues, and it showed in their talk show-worthy repartee.
“This beyond honor — this is a place in history,” he said on stage when receiving the award from Moreno, who he presented the same exact award to in 2014.
He then took a moment to address the SAG Award statue. “I am going to tell you what’s wrong with this statue,” he said. “It works from the back. From the front…it’s gender specific. Maybe I started something.”
Backstage, Freeman was asked about the most challenging part of his career and admitted that there was a point when he thought that his acting career was coming to an end. “I did a movie with Cicely Tyson, [and] then the phone didn’t ring until 1981 or ‘82, and I thought ‘my time was up. I needed to get a job.”
Lucky for him — and for us — he got that next job and it was with Paul Newman in Harry & Son.
Freeman, who began acting at age 12, has appeared in nearly 100 films, which together have earned over $4.5 billion at the box office. His credits include Million Dollar Baby, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar; Unforgiven, and The Shawshank Redemption, for which he received Best Actor nominations for a SAG Award, Oscar, and a Golden Globe.
Other credits include Street Smart, his 1987 breakthrough role; Invictus, The Dark Knight, The Bucket List, Glory, Lean on Me, Se7en, Amistad, Bruce Almighty, and Along Came a Spider. He most recently starred in Warner Bros.’ Going In Style, Paramount Pictures’ Ben-Hur, Summit Entertainment’s Now You See Me 2, and Focus Features’ London Has Fallen. Freeman’s upcoming films include Broad Green Pictures’ Villa Capri and Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.