Cecil B Demille

January 16, 2012 by staff 

Cecil B DemilleCecil B Demille, In accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award Sunday night, Morgan Freeman showed all the characteristics with which he’s long graced the movies.

He was sharp, honed and sure. He was dignified, certainly, but also mischievous, as when he interrupted his speech to take notice of a famed musician in the front of the crowd at the 69th annual Golden Globes.

Actor Morgan Freeman poses backstage with the Cecil B. Demille Award during the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012, in Los Angeles.

“Hi, Elton,” Freeman said with a glint in his eye.

The 74-year-old Freeman has been on the lifetime achievement circuit lately. In the past year, he’s received American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award and the People’s Choice Awards’ first-ever movie icon award. The Cecil B. DeMille award follows five Oscar nominations (and one win for his supporting performance in “Million Dollar Baby”) and five Golden Globe nominations, including a win for his lead performance in “Driving Miss Daisy.”

But Freeman, whose earring has long been a feature of his stately visage, has never been one for self-indulgent flattery, always wary of the calcifying effect of being labeled a legend. So he kept it brief and to the point Sunday, noting that the clip reel of his still quite busy career made him appreciate the people with whom he had worked and “how much fun I’ve been having.”

“If you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” he said.

Freeman was, naturally, not speaking in the past tense. He is currently shooting the third season of his Science Channel series “Through the Wormhole” and later this year will reprise his role in the highly anticipated Batman blockbuster “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Freeman — who has played God in the films “Bruce Almighty” and “Evan Almighty” — has sometimes chafed at being pigeonholed as “Mr. Gravitas,” his catchall name for his more grandiose roles. His deep, melodious voice has made him a popular narrator, most famously in the 2005 documentary “March of the Penguins.”

Few have matched Freeman’s dignified screen presence, but one of them helped introduce the actor Sunday night: Sidney Poitier.

“In my humble opinion, sir, you are indeed a prince in the profession you have chosen,” said Poitier, a previous DeMille honoree, who himself received a standing ovation. “We thank you, Mr. Freeman, for raising the level of excellence yet another notch.”

Helen Mirren followed Poitier’s serious tribute with a more relaxed introduction: “I’m going to lower the tone,” she warned.

“He’s made over 50 films and I’ve only been in one of them,” said Mirren, who co-starred in the 2010 action film “Red” with Freeman. She then did a brief, waddling audition for “March of the Penguins” and pleaded, “I could have been a penguin.”

Freeman warmly responded to Mirren, but it was clear Poitier’s words were deeply meaningful.

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