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dishes to Closer about be­ing at the top of his game at 79.

He won the Ca­reer Achieve­ment Award at AARP’s Movies for Grownups on Feb. 6, but Mor­gan Free­man says the great­est life les­son he’s learned is to stay quiet. “Keep your mouth shut more of­ten than it’s open,” he shared with Closer at the Bev­erly Hills cer­e­mony.

Of course, it would be a shame if he si­lenced his sonorous voice com­pletely. And that’s un­likely, as he’s got a new movie, Go­ing in Style, in the­aters April 7 and sev­eral more in the pipe­line. “I’m at a place where I get to do what­ever I want,” he says.

That hasn’t al­ways been the case. Mor­gan grew up on the South Side of Chicago, which he’s de­scribed as “a hell­hole.” “I re­ally didn’t get dis­cov­ered un­til 1987, when I was 50,” he says of his break­out role as a pimp op­po­site Christo­pher Reeve in Street Smart. “As you can imag­ine, these years have been the best of my life.” They’ve in­cluded five Os­car nom­i­na­tions and a win for 2004’s Mil­lion Dol­lar Baby.

On June 1, Mor­gan will cel­e­brate his 80th birth­day, and “all my friends are plan­ning” a party, he says. But he’s not ready for that mile­stone yet. “I’m 79-and-a-half,” he dead­pans. “I guess I’m fi­nally a f---ing grown-up.” Spend­ing much of his time in Clarks­dale, Miss., helps keep him grounded. “I live out­side the city with the birds and the bees,” he says. “I get to have a nor­mal life. I golf with friends. I have din­ner.” And of all his ac­com­plish­ments, the father of four says, “I’m most proud of my kids.”

But he’s still look­ing for new chal­lenges. “I’ve learned a lot on this jour­ney,” Mor­gan says. “With the ad­van­tages of be­ing a grownup comes re­spon­si­bil­ity to be true to your­self, to honor those who came be­fore you [and] to leave the world a bet­ter place.”

— Bruce Fretts, with re­port­ing by Amanda Cham­pagne-Mead­ows

“I don’t al­ways [feel like] a grown-up.”

— Mor­gan

“Mor­gan, you are truly unique,” Red’s He­len Mir­ren said at the AARP event. Mor­gan robs a bank with fel­low Os­car win­ners Michael Caine and Alan Arkin in Go­ing in Style.

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