Morgan Freeman has been selected by the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Board of Trustees to receive the 39th AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film, it was announced today by Sir Howard Stringer, Chair of the AFI Board of Trustees.
The award will be presented to Freeman at a gala tribute on Thursday, June 9, 2011 in Los Angeles, CA. TV Land will broadcast the 39th AFI Life Achievement Award tribute on TV Land PRIME later in June 2011.
“Morgan Freeman is an American treasure,” said Stringer. “Across decades, whether playing a prisoner, a president or God, he embodies a calm authority that demands respect for the character and for the art form. His gifts to the cultural record are also underscored by his unmistakable voice that echoes through the hearts and minds of movie lovers around the world. AFI is proud to present him with its 39th Life Achievement Award.”
Last year’s AFI Tribute to Mike Nichols brought together the film community in unprecedented fashion, including Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Candice Bergen, Cher, Michael Douglas, Nora Ephron, Calista Flockhart, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Eric Idle, Shirley MacLaine, Elaine May, Jack Nicholson, Mary Louise Parker, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Williams and a special musical performance by Simon and Garfunkel.
About Morgan Freeman
Academy Award(R)-winning actor Morgan Freeman is one of the most recognizable figures in American cinema. His works are among the most critically and commercially successful films of all time and Freeman himself ranks 10th among worldwide top-grossing actors of all time. His films have earned over $3 billion in cumulative ticket sales. Whether a role requires an air of gravitas; a playful smile, twinkle of the eye or a world-weary, yet insightful soul, Freeman’s ability to delve to the core of a character and infuse it with a quiet dignity has resulted in some of the most memorable portrayals ever recorded on film.
Freeman won the Academy Award(R) in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Million Dollar Baby.” In 1990 he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance in “Driving Miss Daisy.” Freeman also received an Academy Award nomination in 1987 for Best Supporting Actor for “Street Smart” and in 1994 for Best Actor for “The Shawshank Redemption.”
In 2000 Freeman was honored with the Hollywood Actor Award from the Hollywood Film Festival. Eight years later he received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor for his distinguished acting.
In 2010 he received an Academy Award(R) nomination, a Golden Globe nomination and a Broadcast Critics Association nomination for his performance as Nelson Mandela in the acclaimed film “Invictus.” He also won the National Board of Review award for Best Actor and was the film’s executive producer. The picture was produced by Revelations Entertainment, the company he co-founded in 1996 with a mission to produce films that enlighten, express heart, and glorify the human experience. Other Revelations features include “Levity,” “Under Suspicion,” “Mutiny,” “Bopha!”, “Along Came a Spider,” “Feast of Love,” “10 Items or Less” and “Maiden Heist.”
Freeman’s credits include Summit Entertainment’s comedic espionage thriller “Red,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Bucket List,” “Glory,” “Clean and Sober,” “Lean on Me,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “Unforgiven,” “Se7en,” “Kiss the Girls,” “Amistad,” “Deep Impact,” “Nurse Betty,” “The Sum of All Fears,” “Bruce Almighty, “Nurse Betty,” “Coriolanus,” “Attica,” “Brubaker,” “Eyewitness,” “Death of a Prophet” and “Along Came a Spider.” He also narrated two Academy Award(R) documentaries “The Long Way Home” and “The March of The Penguins.” His next film “Dolphin’s Tale” begins production in the fall of 2010.
After beginning his acting career on the off-Broadway stage productions of “The Niggerlovers” and the all- African-American production of “Hello Dolly”, Freeman segued into television. Many people grew up watching him on the long-running Children’s Television Workshop classic “The Electric Company”, where he played several recurring characters. Looking for his next challenge, he set his sights on both The Great White Way and silver screen simultaneously and quickly began to fill his resume with memorable performances.
In 1978 Freeman won a Drama Desk Award his role as Zeke in “The Mighty Gents.” He also received a Tony Nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor.
His stage work continued to earn him accolades and awards, including Obie Awards in 1980, 1984 and 1987 and a second Drama Desk Nomination in 1987 for the role of Hoke Colburn which he created for the Alfred Uhry play “Driving Miss Daisy” and reprised in the 1989 movie of the same name.
In his spare time, Freeman loves the freedom of both sea and sky; he is a long-time sailor and has earned a private pilot’s license. He also has a love for the blues and seeks to keep it in the forefront through his Ground Zero club in Clarksville, Mississippi, the birthplace of the blues. In 1973 he co-founded the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop, now in its 37th season. The workshop seeks to serve successful playwrights of the new millennium. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Earth Biofuels, a company whose mission is to promote the use of clean-burning fuels. He also supports Artists for a New South Africa and the Campaign for Female Education.
The highest honor given for a career in film, the AFI Life Achievement Award was established by the AFI Board of Trustees on February 26, 1973. It is presented to a single honoree each year based on the following criteria as mandated through a resolution passed by the AFI Board of Trustees:
“The recipient should be one whose talent has in a fundamental way advanced the film art; whose accomplishment has been acknowledged by scholars, critics, professional peers and the general public; and whose work has stood the test of time.”
AFI Life Achievement Award Recipients
Morgan Freeman joins an esteemed group of individuals who have been chosen for this distinguished honor since its inception in 1973.
1973 John Ford 1974 James Cagney 1975 Orson Welles 1976 William Wyler 1977 Bette Davis 1978 Henry Fonda 1979 Alfred Hitchcock 1980 James Stewart 1981 Fred Astaire 1982 Frank Capra 1983 John Huston 1984 Lillian Gish 1985 Gene Kelly 1986 Billy Wilder 1987 Barbara Stanwyck 1988 Jack Lemmon 1989 Gregory Peck 1990 David Lean 1991 Kirk Douglas 1992 Sidney Poitier 1993 Elizabeth Taylor 1994 Jack Nicholson 1995 Steven Spielberg 1996 Clint Eastwood 1997 Martin Scorsese 1998 Robert Wise 1999 Dustin Hoffman 2000 Harrison Ford 2001 Barbra Streisand 2002 Tom Hanks 2003 Robert De Niro 2004 Meryl Streep 2005 George Lucas 2006 Sean Connery 2007 Al Pacino 2008 Warren Beatty 2009 Michael Douglas 2010 Mike Nichols