De Niro, who won a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of boxer Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull” and a best supporting actor Oscar for “The Godfather: Part II,” joked that he was destined to have his feet in cement because of his prolific work on gangster films.
“Joe Pesci always said I'd end up with my feet in cement. I don't think this is what he had in mind," De Niro quipped, referring to his frequent co-star. Pesci and De Niro have appeared in the gangster films “A Bronx Tale,” “Goodfellas” and “Casino,” along with the two movies that De Niro received Oscars for.
De Niro, 69, a native New Yorker, paid tribute to Hollywood during his brief thank you speech Monday.
"They say everyone in the film industry has three homes – the home where they live, the home where their first wife lives, and Hollywood. I love New York, and I'm proud to be a citizen of Hollywood. Thank you for this honor and thank you for making me feel at home here," he said, according to Reuters.
David O. Russell, who directed De Niro in the Oscar-nominated “Silver Linings Playbook,” and De Niro’s “Analyze This” co-star Billy Crystal, were on hand to support the acclaimed actor while his feet and hands were in cement.
While De Niro is known for his dramatic roles, Crystal said the actor was adept at comedy as well.
"Even in his darkest performances, even in 'Raging Bull' ... he could make you laugh, and that he did in spades in 'Analyze This.' ... I'm not used to playing straight for anybody, but it was a thrill of a lifetime to be on the opposite side of that genius," Crystal told Reuters.
De Niro is up for a best supporting actor Oscar for his “Silver Linings Playbook” role. The film explores mental health issues, including bipolar disorder and sex addiction.
"When we first read the script together he cried because he has known people who struggled with PTSD or bipolar disorder,” Russell said, according to Reuters. “Many families are no stranger to these challenges, and they have to find the magic and the love that Bob brought in his soul, and he did bring his soul to this movie.”