EXCLUSIVE: Robert De Niro Reflects on American History, Fatherhood—and the Methods to His Magic
PLUS: The iconic, award-winning actor—famed for baring his characters’ dark souls— reveals that one of his proudest moments as an actor was actually in a comedic role
WASHINGTON — Robert De Niro, two-time Academy Award winner and AARP Movies for Grownups® Best Supporting Actor, is not one to look back – despite an illustrious 60-year career. In the February/March 2024 issue of AARP The Magazine (ATM), the legendary actor reveals the tenderness behind his tough exterior as he reflects on life as a father and surprises readers with his career’s proudest moments.
De Niro talked at length with ATM shortly after the release of the critically acclaimed film Killers of the Flower Moon to discuss his preparation for the role, his approach to acting and also the priorities in his own life. Despite his reputation for serious roles, De Niro clearly prides himself in his versatility as an actor, revealing that one of his proudest acting moments is a scene in the action-comedy film Midnight Run.
With a resume as long and impressive as De Niro’s, many actors would have packed up and called themselves fulfilled. However, in reflecting at age 80 on his journey – which now includes a newborn daughter – he’s proving it is never too late for new beginnings and continued on-screen excellence.
The following are excerpts from ATM’s February/March 2024 cover story featuring Robert De Niro. The issue is available in homes starting in January and online now at www.aarp.org/magazine/.
Tearing up over his baby daughter Gia:
“Everything that I’m consumed with or worried about just goes away when I look at her. It’s wondrous. When she gets older – who knows? But that very sweet way she has of looking at you, taking you in, thinking and watching and observing…”
On what he’s learned from his expansive career:
“I’ve learned how not to worry or tax myself too much. I like to just let things happen.”
On learning the Osage language for his role in Killers of the Flower Moon:
“Well, my character was supposed to speak it well, so I got a great teacher, and we worked on Zoom.”
On the teaching of American History:
“As a country, we have not allowed certain stories to be told because they’re painful reminders. Well, it doesn’t matter if the history is painful. It’s what happened.”
On his proudest moment as a comedic actor in Midnight Run:
“This scene with Charles Grodin where I’m in a phone booth yelling at his bail bondsman, telling him I’m gonna leave him on the hook for a half a million dollars by killing Grodin. I’m going, ‘I will shoot him and I will dump him in a f——- swamp!’ And Chuck’s standing right there, so I do this quick little thing [a just kidding! look] to reassure him.”
Praise from actress Debra Messing after filming Alto Nights with De Niro:
“He prepares and prepares and prepares—and then tosses it all away. Every scene we did was improvised. It was terrifying at first. But then I just became more open to trying things. How many times have you heard an actor gushing about ‘how much I learned from Robert De Niro,’ right? Well, this is what they’re talking about.”
On the most important aspects of acting:
“Every character has a certain rhythm to it, and you have to do whatever it takes to locate that. There is a rhythm to the way you and the other actors work together. You all pick up on each other’s rhythms and play off one another. This is so important to me.”
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