Tony Goldwyn Praises Robert De Niro’s ‘Beautiful’ Relationship with Daughter Helen (Exclusive)! Heartwarming Insights and Celeb Reactions Unveiled

The legendary actor shares his preteen with ex-wife Grace Hightower

Tony Goldwyn attends MGM's "A Good Person" New York Screening at Metrograph on March 20, 2023 in New York City.; THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 1973 -- Pictured: Actor Robert De Niro poses backstage on Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Tony Goldwyn, Robert De Niro. Photo:Dominik Bindl/WireImage; Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty

Robert De Niro is a great father, according to his Ezra collaborator Tony Goldwyn.

Goldwyn, 64, opens up to PEOPLE about directing and starring with De Niro, 80, in the soon-to-be-released comedy/drama film and how the legendary actor is as a dad.

Noting that he did not meet De Niro’s youngest child, 1-year-old daughter Gia Virginia Chen-De Niro, given that “she was born right literally after he finished filming,” Goldwyn says he did, however, get to meet De Niro’s preteen daughter Helen Grace, who he described as “incredible.”

“She was around a lot,” the Scandal alum says. “It was really beautiful to see how Bob is with her. She was, I guess, 10 or 11 when we filmed, so now she’s 12 or 13. But they have the most dear relationship.”

Goldwyn adds that De Niro’s love for his child translated onscreen. “It was very interesting because he was playing, in our story, a grandfather to the 11-year-old boy Ezra … and so much of [his relationship with Helen], I feel, influenced his relationship with Ezra,” he says. “It was a very beautiful thing.”

Robert De Niro, daughter Helen Grace, Chilina Kennedy as "Carole King" and Grace Hightower De Niro pose backstage at the hit Carole King musical "Beautiful" on Broadway at The Stephen Sondheim Theater on September 2, 2015 in New York City

Robert De Niro, daughter Helen Grace, Chilina Kennedy as “Carole King” and Grace Hightower De Niro pose backstage at the hit Carole King musical “Beautiful” on Broadway at The Stephen Sondheim Theater on September 2, 2015 in New York City. Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

De Niro and his ex-wife Grace Hightower welcomed Helen via surrogate on Dec. 23, 2011. Together, the pair are also parents to son Elliot, 26.

The Taxi Driver star has seven children. He and his first wife, Diahnne Abbott, are parents to daughter Drena, 52, and son Raphael, 47. In 1995, he welcomed twin sons Julian and Aaron, 28, with his former girlfriend, model and actress Toukie Smith. In April 2023, he welcomed his youngest child Gia with his girlfriend, Tiffany Chen.

Robert De Niro attends the "Killers of the Flower Moon" press conference at the 76th annual Cannes film festival

Mohammed Badra/Pool/Getty Images

While speaking with PEOPLE in February 2024, De Niro said his favorite thing to do with his children is “just being together, taking trips to warm places,” adding, “The fact that they’d all be together is everything to me.”

Also a grandfather, De Niro has said that the best thing a parent or grandparent can do is push their kids to reach for their dreams.

“For my kids, I tell them, ‘If you want to be an actor or you want to do this or that, that’s fine as long as you’re happy. Just don’t sell yourself short,’ ” the Academy Award winner told PEOPLE in January 2020. “That’s the most I would say — push yourself a little more and reach for what you really think it is you want to do. Don’t be afraid.”

Ezra is in theaters on May 31.

For more on Tony Goldwyn, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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