Although most of the awards at Sunday night’s SAG Awards ceremony will be about honoring the best movies and TV shows of 2019, one particular honor takes a much longer view of things. Robert De Niro is set to receive the Life Achievement Award for his decades-long career of iconic acting work. It’s a tough task pick favorites from De Niro’s filmography, even for him. When asked by PeopleTV hosts Jeremy Parsons and Lola Ogunnaike about which of his films he would like to take to a desert island, De Niro struggled to come up with an answer before finally settling on 1974’s The Godfather Part II, for which he won his first Oscar.
But as much as the individual films themselves, a big takeaway from a career as long and successful as De Niro’s is the friends you make along the way. De Niro elaborated on this while telling Parsons and Ogunnaike about an email he received from Joe Pesci after wrapping filming on Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Those two actors and that director first collaborated decades ago on 1980’s Raging Bull, for which De Niro won his other Oscar.
“It was a wonderful email,” De Niro said. “We’ve known each other for 50 years. Over the years, because we found ourselves in the same type of situation, we would compare notes, give each other advice about how to handle a thing, a situation, whatever, because we felt close in that way and had an understanding. So that was a great thing for us over the years to rely on.”
The close partnership between De Niro and Pesci was witnessed firsthand by their female costars on The Irishman, a movie in which De Niro’s character receives a lifetime achievement award of his own.
“They have their own brotherhood,” Kathrine Naducci, who plays Carrie Bufalino, the wife of Pesci’s character Russell Bufalino, told Parsons and Ogunnaike. “They’re like family. Stephanie and I got to witness that even in the back of the car. We had a long road trip that we worked for weeks on: Me, Stephanie, Bob, and Pesci. We would sit during breaks and just listen to them tell stories and it was wonderful.”
Stephanie Kurtzuba, who plays Irene Sheeran, the wife of De Niro’s Frank Sheeran, continued, “telling stories about the old days, like do you remember this? We’d just sit there and try not to eavesdrop but look at each other and giggle like, we just heard that!”
Watch the clips above, and stay tuned for more coverage of Sunday’s SAG Awards from EW.