Cooper, who is a producer on Joker, encouraged De Niro to take on the role in the Oscar-nominated film.

By Mia McNiece
January 16, 2020 04:31 PM
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Robert De Niro, 76, is getting rave reviews for his role as talk show host Murray Franklin in Joker and says he has good friend Bradley Cooper to thank.

“I met Todd Phillips [the director] and I liked him. I thought ‘this will be an interesting project.’ Bradley was one of the producers and he told me to do it,” De Niro says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

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De Niro and Cooper, 45, have worked together on four films — Limitless, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and Joy – and De Niro says he is impressed by how Cooper approaches a project.

  • For more on Robert De Niro, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands now.

“He’s really terrific. What he did with A Star Is Born, the way he worked on it quietly by himself, put it together, found the right actors, the right people . . . When you know what you want to do, that’s a great thing, and you know it’ll be special.”

The Joker received 11 Oscar nominations this year including best picture (which means Cooper, as a producer, is a nominee). While De Niro’s organized crime drama, The Irishman, received 10.

On Jan. 19, De Niro will receive the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award, presented by his two-time costar Leonardo DiCaprio, 45. “When people in your own profession recognize you in this way, it’s an honor,” he says.

Watch People, Entertainment Weekly & TNT Red Carpet Live: 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday,
Jan. 19, starting at 5:30 p.m. ET/ 2:30 p.m. PT on people.com. Stay tuned for the annual SAG Awards, airing on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.