On my hypothetical list of people I would never want to piss off, Robert De Niro has to be somewhere close to the top. The legendary actor famously takes his craft extremely seriously, making interviews a challenge for even the most competent journalists.
But, no exchange has been as heated as the one that occurred at Radio Times this week during De Niro's promotion of his upcoming comedy The Intern. After interviewer Emma Brockes began probing at how the star avoids "autopilot" when filming movies of the light and airy variety, De Niro became visibly upset before walking out entirely.
Was this a case of a big ego? Or, was the interviewer pushing her luck?
Unfortunately, there is no footage of the interview, so we can't get the full picture for ourselves. However, enough excerpts have been published for us to get a pretty good idea.
De Niro began to think that Brockes' line of questioning had a "negative inference" when she suggested that Tribeca (the home of the film festival co-founded by De Niro) has become a playground for bankers. Then, she boldly asked how the Oscar-winning actor limits falling into "autopilot" when filming his comedies, covertly suggesting that his more recent roles are less demanding than his classic roles in Taxi Driver and The Godfather: Part II.
At that point, De Niro asked her to pause her tape recorder, began pacing around the room, and cut off further questioning because of Brockes' treatment. When she asked what part he was referring to, De Niro responded curtly before heading out the door:
The whole way through and I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it, darling.
The journalist admits she "lost her cool"
In an initial statement, Brockes claims that De Niro was "obviously grumpy" and seems to pin the blame on the fast-paced interview schedule actors must deal with.
When someone is being uncooperative in that kind of interview, when they are obviously grumpy and knackered, you ask them a number of straightforward questions and you leave. You try to be respectful and polite, which I was. It wasn’t a hostile interview. Poor guy - who would want to be contractually obliged to do this stuff? But you make the best of it so you can go home.
But later, she admits that "lost her cool." As De Niro was exiting because of her negative questions, she threw one last barb at him, proclaiming:
I have to say, now that you’re going on about it, it makes me think you were on autopilot and you’re super-sensitive about it.
Her parting words were calling the actor "very condescending." No follow-up word from De Niro's camp, but something tells me that she won't be getting a follow-up interview with this acting great any time soon.
(Source: The Guardian)