Morgan Freeman

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI

Morgan Freeman has played God a few times on the big screen (see Bruce Almighty and its 2007 sequel). His acting skills are now earning him plenty of worship from his real-life Hollywood peers.

The 74-year-old thesp was feted Thursday night with the American Film Institute's 39th Life Achievement Award, one of Tinseltown's highest honors, that pays tribute to an entertainment icon whose career has not only spanned decades but made a lasting mark on movies and pop culture at large.

And by the looks of the turnout, Freeman's certainly deserving.

Among the celebs showering him with accolades during the ceremony was old buddy Clint Eastwood, his costar in Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, who took the stage at Sony Pictures Studios to present Morgan with his star-shaped AFI trophy.

"I don't know if it's proper to love another man, but this is as close as I'm going to get," the film legend marveled about their long-time friendship.

Fellow thesp and mentor Sydney Poitier also lauded Freeman as "a prince of the craft of acting" while Forrest Whitaker hailed him as an "adviser, a beacon, a confidant, a shoulder to lean on, protector, and friend."

Tim Robbins, who costarred as a convict with Freeman in one of his most memorable flicks, The Shawshank Redemption, also got in his own memorable line: "It was an honor being locked up with you, Morgan."

The ceremony took place on Hollywood's Soundstage 15, where many of MGM's most famous Technicolor musicals were filmed. It was turned into a fancy ballroom for the occasion.

Numerous clips were shown from Freeman's illustrious four-decade career—from his stint on PBS children's show The Electric Company with Rita Moreno in the early '70s to roles in such films as Driving Miss Daisy, Lean on Me, Glory, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Se7en, Amistad, and more recently Batman Begins, Wanted and Invictus.

Long before Obama was elected, Freeman also had the honor of playing an African-American President in Deep Impact. And let's not forget about his commanding voice, which has provided narration for countless movies and documentaries, from Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds remake to Ken Burns' The Civil War and March of the Penguins.

Other stars who turned out last night include Matthew McConaughey, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Virginia Madsen, and Betty White, who performed a hilarious rendition of "Hello Dolly" entitled "Hello Morgan."

In accepting his award, Freeman was touched by the outpouring of love.

"This is easy to take but hard to believe. Where I come from in Mississippi, they call this walking in high cotton," the Oscar winner said. "For me, heaven has always been about acting in the movies. I'm proud to be an actor, although for this one night, you've made me feel like a star."

God couldn't have said it any better himself.

TV Land will air The AFI Life Achievement Awards tribute to Freeman on June 19 at 9 p.m. ET.

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