Robert De Niro to Cheers at SAG Awards: 'We're in Such a Dire Situation'

January 19th, 2020 10:26 PM

It seemed only natural that January 19's 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on TNT and TBS would get political. Why is that? Well, known Trump-basher Robert De Niro was being honored with a life achievement award.

De Niro used his speech to praise unions and the liberal causes they're associated with:



I thank SAG-AFTRA for tirelessly fighting on our behalf for workplace and economic gains, and respect. And that especially bears -- [Applause] And that especially bears remembering these days when there's so much hostility towards unions. [Applause] Political leaders who support unions are more likely to support affordable health care, equitable taxes, humane immigration regulations, a safe environment, a diverse citizenry, reproductive rights, sensible gun control, and fair wages and benefits. [Applause] 

We owe them our support. And we owe them our vote. I can imagine some of you saying, all right, okay, stay out of politics. That's all right. But we're -- we're in such a dire situation, so deeply concerning to me and to so many others, I have to say something. And I thought I said it pretty well to Variety the other day, so I'm going to quote myself. [Laughter] 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, or 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. 

In the Variety interview released on January 17, De Niro sang the praises of Robert Mueller, a role he personally lobbied for on Saturday Night Live:

An outspoken opponent of President Trump, De Niro has been earning laughs (and an Emmy nom for guest star) for his frequent spots on “Saturday Night Live” as prosecutor Robert Mueller, the special counsel for the Department of Justice who led an investigation into Trump. It was actually De Niro who initially approached “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels.

“I felt it was my civic duty to do Mueller because of what’s going on with this whole administration,” he says. “Whatever I can do to contribute to that, I’ll do.” While he knows some people don’t like actors speaking out about politics, De Niro disagrees.

“I think there is a responsibility at some point,” he notes. “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 else. And if I have a bigger voice because of my situation I’m going to use it against what I feel is a blatant abuse of power.”

Though De Niro did not mention Trump directly when accepting this award, he has done so countless times before. During the 72nd Annual Tony Awards in 2018, he yelled out "fuck Trump" to much adoring applause. 

De Niro has not merely limited his TDS to awards shows, however. He's criticized Trump while on The View, The Late Show, AM Joyand at the 57th New York Film Festival, just to name a few recent examples.

This year's SAG awards were largely toned down on the politics. If only De Niro could have contained himself, like his fellow actors.