Robert De Niro made use of his platform when picking up the 56th SAG Life Achievement Award on Sunday as he took a clear shot at President Donald Trump, despite not naming him directly.
To loud cheers and a standing ovation, De Niro accepted the award after an introduction by Leonardo DiCaprio, then aimed fire at our current political situation, saying that SAG support meant so much to him, especially “these days, when there’s so much hostility towards unions.”
He went on, “Political leaders who support unions are more likely to support Affordable Care Act, equitable taxes, humane immigration regulations, a safe environment, a diverse citizenry, reproductive rights, sensible gun control, and fair wages and benefits. We owe them our support and we owe them our vote.”
Perhaps in reference to Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais’ pleas earlier this month that actors keep political references out of their acceptance speeches, De Niro said, “I imagine some of you are saying, ‘Alright, let’s not get into the politics.’ But we are in such a dire situation that is deeply concerning to me, and to so many others, so I had to say something. There’s right and there’s wrong, and there’s common sense and there’s abuse of power, and as a citizen I have as much right as anybody—an actor, an athlete, a musician, anybody else—to voice my opinion. And if I have a bigger voice because of my situation, I’m going to use it whenever I see a blatant abuse of power.” At this point the crowd leapt to its feet and yelled its support.
DiCaprio called De Niro “elemental,” saying, “It feels as if he’s always been here and always will be here.” DiCaprio then recalled his first experience of working with De Niro on This Boy’s Life in 1993. “To share scenes with an artist of his magnitude was monumental. It was a life-changing experience.”
Paying special tribute to the partnership between De Niro and Martin Scorsese, DiCaprio called it “inarguably the greatest partnership in cinema history. They have single-handedly defined and elevated an entire genre,” he said, adding that it was “a true honor” to be working alongside De Niro again in Scorsese’s upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon.
De Niro also mentioned his excitement at that upcoming film, but for a rather different reason. “It makes me very happy that my next job is working with you and Marty,” he told DiCaprio, with a twinkle in his eye. “At least I know I’ve got another year of health insurance.”
Watch De Niro’s acceptance speech above and and DiCaprio’s introduction here:
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