Robert De Niro Speaks out on Splitting From Grace Hightower After 20 Years

Robert De Niro has finally spoken out on splitting from his wife Grace Hightower after 20 years of marriage.

“Grace and I have two beautiful children together,” the 75-year-old actor said in a statement to Us Weekly, referring to the couple's 20-year-old son Elliot and 6-year-old daughter Helen. “We are entering a period of transition in our relationship, which is a difficult but constructive process.”

“I honor Grace as a wonderful mother and ask for privacy and respect from all as we proceed to develop our roles as partners in parenting,” he added.

It was announced before Thanksgiving that the couple had split and was planning to divorce, with reports indicating that they had been estranged for some time.

The two are said to have first met in the late '80s when Hightower was working at the Mr. Chow restaurant in London. They eventually married in 1997.

De Niro actually filed for divorce from Hightower once before, in 1999, suing for custody of their son at this time as well. They eventually reconciled and ended up renewing their vows in 2004.

The iconic actor has been working in the film industry since the early '60s," and several years ago he sat down with The NY Times and shared the secrets of his long career.

"I’m older now, and I’m more experienced, so I don’t get thrown by the directors that I’ve worked with. Rarely happens," he said of working with directors. "And I’m certainly not a person that feels precious about myself — it’s just common sense. But when I was younger, I was a little more nervous about stuff. With Bernardo, sometimes he would be — I felt that he was European, they make certain demands."

He then went on to give an example.

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"In 1900, we shot the old stuff on the first day, and I realized there that that was a mistake — it just wouldn’t work, nobody was into it," he explained. "I didn’t know what I was doing sitting in another country with this director who I like very much, but it was like, 'Where are we?' If I had thought about it more, I would have said, 'Can we not do this scene later, not the first day?' I was sensible enough to know you don’t do things so out of order. But I went along with it, I remember that, and it just didn’t work."

At this time, Hightower does not appear to have commented publicly on her split from De Niro.