Robert De Niro received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award and got political during his acceptance speech.
De Niro was presented with the award because of his “extraordinary depth and ability,” according to a statement by President of SAG-AFTRA – Gabrielle Carteris.
“The characters he creates captivate our imaginations. From the smoldering inferno of young Vito Corleone to the raging bull Jake Lamotta and everybody’s grandpa Ben Whittaker, he continues to touch our hearts and open our minds to new and exciting worlds of understanding and emotion,” Carteris said.
The actor was introduced by Leonardo DiCaprio followed by a montage featuring his most iconic roles in films like “Taxi Driver” and “Goodfellas”. On accepting the award, The Irishman star spoke about the art of acting and thanked SAG-AFTRA for “tirelessly fighting” for actors’ rights.
The star further added, “Those efforts are particularly important these days when there’s so much hostility towards unions.”
“Political leaders who support unions are more likely to support the Affordable Care Act, equitable taxes, humane immigration regulation, 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.”
De Niro said that he knows some people may not want to hear him talk about politics but “we’re in such a dire situation, so deeply concerning to me and to so many others”
“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. And that’s all I’m going to say about that tonight,” he said before thanking his colleagues and family and leaving the stage.