Morgan Freeman was hailed as a cinematic icon and the inspiration for President Barack Obama’s political career at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Chaplin Award ceremony on Monday.

The gathering, a champagne soaked affair that brought out one percenters, cinephiles, and A-list talents such as Helen Mirren and Matthew Broderick, veered briefly away from film projects and into the current political landscape.

In toasting the Oscar-winner, Robert De Niro joked that Freeman’s deft handling of an asteroid on a collision course with earth inspired the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to seek higher office.

“In 1998 he played President Beck in the movie ‘Deep Impact.’ Morgan’s movie performance was an inspiration for the young Barack Obama,” De Niro joked to the audience. “According to reports, after seeing the film Barack turned to his friends in Kenya and said I want to be president, too. If only I had a birth certificate.”

De Niro’s remarks touched on the “birther” controversy that has erupted periodically throughout Obama’s term, with critics questioning if he was born in the United States. The “Taxi Driver” star continued, making his own political leanings, and frustration with the political process, clear.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out so great for [Obama],” he said. “Morgan’s President Beck only had to deal with a giant asteroid hitting the earth and wiping out mankind. President Obama has had to deal with a Republican Congress.”

Freeman, 78, has made more than 100 films, ranging from classics such as “The Shawshank Redemption” to lesser lights such as “Hard Rain.” He told Variety that he’s hoping to focus on producing projects.

“I don’t care what the subject is, as long as it is good,” Freeman said.

The actor’s production company Revelation Entertainment, is behind the recent CBS hit “Madame Secretary.” At the moment he’s talking to Tom Hanks about a project like “Band of Brothers,” HBO’s acclaimed mini-series.

“Genre-wise I’m in for the whole run — drama, comedy,{ Freeman said.

The ceremony was an extended toast to the veteran actor. Clips from Freeman’s greatest hits ranging from “Million Dollar Baby” to “The Lego Movie,” were interspersed with recorded messages from colleagues including directors Jerry Schatzberg, and Christopher Nolan, and actors Danny Glover, Tim Robbins, Broderick and Mirren.

The group shared fun facts and lots of love for Freeman. According to Schatzberg, the way Freeman ate a banana landed him “Street Smart.” He peeled the fruit in a commanding manner, making him realize that Freeman, best known at the time for his work on the children’s show, “The Electric Company,” could handle the role of a violent pimp.

Broderick moved beyond fruit consumption into divine analogy. He said after many years he’d decided, “Morgan Freeman doesn’t sound like God, God sounds like Morgan Freeman.”