Celebrated with a career tribute at Deauville Film Festival on Friday, Morgan Freeman was moved to tears and said in French that he was “grateful” for “reasons that are deeper than usual this year.”
Freeman, who was targeted earlier this year by a CNN report about his alleged sexual misconduct, said he’s been a “lover of French cinema, history and art for most of his life.”
The 81-year old Oscar-winning actor was greeted in Deauville by hordes of fans and introduced on stage by prominent French actor Vincent Lindon (“The Measure of a Man”).
Lindon delivered a poignant homage to Freeman, praising him for paving the way for other African American actors by accessing non-stereotypical roles at a time when “the only condition for producers to cast African-American actors was to play Black characters.”
“Almost all the characters he’s played on screen could have been played by white folks, wasps or rednecks like Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, John Wayne or your dear friend Clint Eastwood,” said Lindon.
Lindon also said Freeman’s flawless career choices have defined him as a ‘grand actor’ and wrapped his speech by playing the song “Morgane de toi” (“In love with you”) by popular French singer Renaud.
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The homage included a montage of clips from his films, going back to the 1980’s “Brubaker” in which he starred opposite Robert Redfort, Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” Million Dollar Baby” and “Invictus” as well as Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.”
The city of Deauville also honored Freeman with a dedicated cabin on the Normandie beach.
Earlier this year, Freeman issued an apology in reaction to the sexual misconduct allegations reported by CNN saying that “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy.” At Deauville, the actor refused to answer any questions about the allegations during his press conference and the several interviews he gave.
Freeman is currently attached to star in Nick Cassavetes’s “The Manuscript” and Raja Gosnell’s “Cold Warriors.”
The 44th edition of Deauville festival wraps Saturday with the screening of Chris Weitz’s “Operation Finale” with Oscar Isaac an Sir Ben Kingsley expected to attend.