Meryl Streep honored her longtime friend Robert De Niro at a gala in Austin for the Harry Ransom Center Saturday (September 24th). The Devil Wears Prada actress referred to De Niro as her “beacon for 50 years.”

In her speech, Streep shared how much she looks up to the Goodfellas actor. “Over the years, people have always said to me, ‘What actress do you most admire? What actress’ career would you like to emulate?'” she said, naming Geraldine Page, Colleen Dewhurst, and Vanessa Redgrave among others.

“But, really,” she continued, “The second time I saw Robert De Niro, I said to myself, that’s the kind of actor I wanna be. That’s what I wanna do. And I wanna do it with the commitment and the passion and the skill and the beauty with which he applies to it. And he’s been my beacon for 50 years.”

The Death Becomes Her actress added, “He’s a man whose presence in my life for 40 years has been a consoling constant. But I don’t see him very often. We don’t chat. But I know he is, without question, always there for me and he always will be. He’s a man who lives by his loyalty to his ideals, to his country and to the people that he loves.”

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