Robert De Niro breaks silence after splitting from wife Grace Hightower

Robert De Niro confirmed that he and wife Grace Hightower have split in a statement Tuesday that praised his ex as a “wonderful mother,” and asked for privacy as they navigate their new normal.

“Grace and I have two beautiful children together. We are entering a period of transition in our relationship which is a difficult but constructive process,” the statement read.

“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.”

Reports first surfaced earlier this month that the Oscar-winning actor, 75, and Hightower, 63, had called it quits after 21 years of marriage.

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Robert DeNiro and Grace Hightower together
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: Grace Hightower and Robert De Niro pose backstage during the 72nd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30: Actor Robert De Niro (L) and Grace Hightower attend the 45th Chaplin Award Gala at the Alice Tully Hall on April 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower attend the premiere of 'The Fourth Estate' during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival at Borough of Manhattan Community College on April 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Grace Hightower and Robert De Niro attend the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival CHANEL Dinner at Balthazar on April 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Robert De Niro (L) and Grace Hightower attend the 44th Chaplin Award Gala at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on May 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Actor Robert De Niro (L) and Grace Hightower attend the 44th Chaplin Award Gala at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on May 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Grace Hightower and Robert De Niro attend the 2017 IWC Schaffhausen 'For The Love Of Cinema' Gala Dinner at Spring Studios on April 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Grace Hightower and Robert De Niro attend the 2017 IWC Schaffhausen 'For The Love Of Cinema' Gala Dinner at Spring Studios on April 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Grace Hightower and Robert De Niro attend the 'Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives' 2017 Opening Gala of the Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: Grace Hightower and Robert De Niro attends the Broadway Opening Night Perfomance of 'A Bronx Tale' at The Longacre on December 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 22: Grace Hightower and Robert De Niro attend the 'Hands of Stone' U.S. premiere at SVA Theater on August 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 22: Grace Hightower (L) and Robert De Niro attend the New York Premiere Of 'Hands Of Stone' in Partnership with DeLeon Tequila, NetJets, The Redbury New York and VisitPanama at SVA Theater on August 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 18: Robert DeNiro and Grace Hightower attend Riverkeeper's 50th Anniversary Fishermen's Ball at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on May 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 17: Robert DeNiro (L) and Grace Hightower attend the De Grisogono Party at the annual 69th Cannes Film Festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on May 17, 2016 in Cap d'Antibes, France. (Photo by Anthony Ghnassia/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Boxer Roberto Duran, Robert de Niro and his wife Grace Hightower, Edgar Ramirez and Anna de Armas leave the 'Hands Of Stone' premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 16, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Robert de Niro and his wife Grace Hightower leave the 'Hands Of Stone' premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 16, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Robert de Niro and his wife Grace Hightower attend the 'Hands Of Stone' Premiere during the annual 69th Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 16, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Foc Kan/FilmMagic)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: (L to R) US actor Robert De Niro, Grace Hightower De Niro and Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez arrive for the screening of the film 'Hands of Stone' at the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 16, 2016. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Robert De Niro, izquierda, y Grace Hightower asisten a una función especial de "Goodfellas" en el Beacon Theater, 25 de abril de 2015, con la cual finalizó el festival de cine de Tribeca. (Foto de Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Actor-director Robert De Niro and his wife Grace Hightower attend the 20th anniversary screening of "A Bronx Tale" presented by First Time Fest and Tribeca Film Institute on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Robert De Niro attends "The King Of Comedy" screening with his wife Grace Hightower on Saturday, April 27, 2013 in New York. De Niro stars in the 1982 film with Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard. (Photo by Dario Cantatore/Invision/AP )
Jury president Robert De Niro and his wife Grace Hightower arrive for the screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, at the 64th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Robert De Niro arrives with his wife, Grace Hightower, for the premiere of the new movie " The Interpreter" at the opening night of the festival, Tuesday, April 19, 2005, in New York. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
U.S. actor Robert De Niro, right, accompanied by his wife Grace Hightower, arrives at Rome's Auditorium, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006, for a meeting with the audience at the first ever edition of the Rome Film Festival. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Robert De Niro, left, and Grace Hightower arrive at the premiere of "Stardust" in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
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The two were said to have separated and moved apart just before Thanksgiving, according to People.

De Niro and Hightower – who dated for 10 years before marrying in 1997 – had two children together: Elliott, 20, and Helen Grace, 6, whom they welcomed via surrogate.

The couple briefly split in 1999 when the “Goodfellas” star filed for divorce, but they eventually reconciled before it was finalized, and renewed their vows in 2004.

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