Robert De Niro on His Iconic Career, the ‘Great Joy’ of Fatherhood and His Future: ‘You Got to Be Ready’ (Exclusive)

Robert De Niro on His Iconic Career, the ‘Great Joy’ of Fatherhood and His Future: ‘You Got to Be Ready’ (Exclusive)

The 80-year-old acting legend, who was nominated for an Oscar last month for his performance in 'Killers of the Flower Moon,' tells PEOPLE about his life now

Robert De Niro is not looking in the rearview mirror because he has his eyes fixed on the road ahead.

“As things come, you don’t expect them,” he says in the new issue of PEOPLE. “You got to be ready. I’m ready to take whatever life gives me.”

That philosophy has sustained his storied career that includes two Oscar wins (for The Godfather Part II and Raging Bull), 10 collaborations with friend and director Martin Scorsese and dozens of hit films that showcase his dramatic and comedic range, from Goodfellas to Meet the Parents. (He says fans still approach him to quote his famous taunt to Ben Stiller, “I will bring you down, baby. I will bring you down to Chinatown.”)

At 80, De Niro has no desire to slow down any time soon. In his PEOPLE interview, he talks about the future, particularly his desire to continue working — “I enjoy it,” he says — and savor more time with his family, which recently expanded.

He welcomed his youngest child, Gia, last year, with his partner, martial arts instructor Tiffany Chen, 45, with whom he’s been linked romantically since 2021.

Related: 2024 Oscar Nominations: Barbie, Oppenheimer and American Fiction Among Nominees — See the Full List

“She’s such an adorable baby. So sweet,” he says of the smiley 10-month-old. “[When I] look at her, everything else goes away. So it’s a great joy and relief to just be with her in the moment.”

<p>Courtesy Robert De Niro</p> Robert De Niro and daughter Gia

Courtesy Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro and daughter Gia

De Niro’s other children, Drena, 56, and Raphael, 47 (with his first wife Diahnne Abbott), twins Julian and Aaron, 28 (with ex-girlfriend Toukie Smith) and Elliot, 25, and Helen, 12 (with ex-wife Grace Hightower), are proud older siblings.

“The kids all get a big kick out of her,” he says of Gia. “The grandkids even. She’s their aunt— [and] they’re about to be teenagers!” (Raphael has three children; Drena's son, Leandro De Niro Rodriguez, died at 19 last July.)

A family man to his core, De Niro loves when they can all gather. “The fact that they’d all be together,” he says, “is everything to me.”

He also treasures his long-term friendships, including the one he shares with Scorsese.

For their latest collaboration, Killers of the Flower Moon, De Niro earned his ninth Oscar nomination (he has one more for producing Best Picture nominee The Irishman), putting him in elite company with just 17 performers in all of Hollywood history who have eight or more acting nominations. (Think: Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington.)

<p><a href="" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Michael Schwartz</a></p> Robert De Niro on the cover of PEOPLE

Michael Schwartz

Robert De Niro on the cover of PEOPLE

De Niro says he’s “lucky” to work with the Oscar-winning director, whom he affectionately calls Marty. “He allows people to do what they can do best and then he’ll direct from there,” says the actor, who first worked with Scorsese on 1973’s Mean Streets.

As he’s done for decades, De Niro threw himself into the role of Killers’ villain. In the true story of the Osage Reign of Terror, De Niro plays William Hale, a seemingly benevolent White man who orchestrates the murders of several Indigenous people to steal their oil-rich land in 1920s Oklahoma.

“When Bob commits, he starts digging in with research, questions about absolutely everything, from what the character wears to what he eats for breakfast,” says Scorsese. “The search and the discoveries never stop.”

Related: Robert De Niro's Life in Photos

<p>Melinda Sue Gordon/Apple TV </p> Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

Melinda Sue Gordon/Apple TV

Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

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De Niro was on the set of his upcoming Netflix series Zero Day, a political thriller he’s also executive producing, when he heard the news of his latest nod.

How does it feel to be recognized at this point in his career? “Great.” Did he savor the moment and pop some champagne? “No.”

For De Niro, the reward is the work. Asked about retirement, he says he’s isn’t ready: “Not at the moment.”

Killers of the Flower Moon is streaming now on Apple TV+.

For more on Robert De Niro, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE.

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Read the original article on People.