Robert De Niro Poster

Quotes (88)

  • It's important not to indicate. People don't try to show their feelings, they try to hide them.
  • I don't like to watch my own movies--I fall asleep in my own movies.
  • Don't talk it [shooting a scene] away, do it!
  • Some people say that drama is easy, and comedy is hard. Not true. I've been making comedies the last couple of years, and it's nice. When you make a drama, you spend all day beating a guy to death with a hammer, or what have you. Or you have to take a bite out of somebody's face. On the other hand, with a comedy, you yell at Billy Crystal for an hour, and you go home.
  • [interview in Chicago Sun Times, 1/8/98] I think Hollywood has a class system. The actors are like the inmates, but the truth is they're running the asylum. You've got to look at the whole studio structure. There's these guys. We call them suits. They have the power to okay a film. They're like your parents, going, "We have the money". But at the same time they say to us actors, "We love you. We can't do without you". You know, I've been around a long time. I've seen the suits run the asylum. I think I can do it as good or even better. Let me try it. That's why I have TriBeCa.
  • I go to Paris, I go to London, I go to Rome, and I always say, "There's no place like New York. It's the most exciting city in the world now. That's the way it is. That's it."
  • I've never been one of those actors who has touted myself as a fascinating human being. I had to decide early on wether I was to be an actor or a personality.
  • [on acting] The whole thing is for younger people who are sexy and youthful.
  • [on the mobster characters he often plays] The characters that I play are real. They are real so they have as much right to be portrayed as any other characters. There are other characters I have played, other than those ones that have been called stereotypes or whatever. So.
  • People treat me with a bit too much reverence. Look at Dustin Hoffman. I always envy the way he can speak and be smart and funny and so on. I just can't do that.
  • [on Al Pacino] Al, over the years we've taken roles from one another. People have tried to compare us to one another, to pit us against one another and to tear us apart personally. I've never seen the comparison, frankly. I'm clearly much taller, more the leading-man type. Honestly, you just may be the finest actor of our generation--with the possible exception of me.
  • One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people's lives without having to pay the price.
  • I am part Italian, I'm not all Italian. I'm part Dutch, I'm part French, I'm part German, I'm part Irish. But my name is Italian and I probably identify more with my Italian side than with my other parts.
  • If there is a God, he has a lot to answer for. You'll have time to rest when you're dead.
  • After my first movies, I gave interviews. Then I thought, "What's so important about where I went to school, and hobbies? What does any of that have to do with acting, with my own head?".
  • There is a mixture of anarchy and discipline in the way I work. The talent is in the choices.
  • [in 2004] I love Italy and I have a deep tie with my Italian roots. I stand for [John Kerry (I)]. I hope he will arrive at the White House. We need a different government to represent America. The change of presidency would be a clear and international sign to say that we are approaching again to the rest of the world. I don't want any prize that can influence this election. I stand for Kerry.
  • [on the infamous line from Taxi Driver (1976)] You have no idea that, years later, people in cars will recognize you on the street and shout, "You talkin' to me?" I don't remember the original script, but I don't think the line was in it. We improvised. For some reason it touched a nerve. That happens.
  • Some people say, "New York's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." I say that about other places.
  • It's true: I spent lunchtime in a grave during the filming of Bloody Mama (1970). When you're younger, you feel that's what you need to do to help you stay in character. When you get older, you become more confident and less intense about it--and you can achieve the same effect. You might even be able to achieve more if you take your mind off it, because you're relaxed. That's the key to it all. When you're relaxed and confident, you get good stuff.
  • Movies are hard work. The public doesn't see that. The critics don't see it. But they're a lot of work. A lot of work. When I'm directing a great dramatic scene, part of me is saying, "Thank God, I don't have to do that". Because I know how fucking hard it is to act. It's the middle of the night. It's freezing. You gotta do this scene. You gotta get it up to get to that point. And yet, as a director, you've got to get the actors to that point. It's hard either way.
  • When I was a teenager, I went to the Dramatic Workshop at the New School. The school had a lot of actors under the GI Bill--Rod Steiger, Harry Belafonte, the generation ahead of me. I went in there and the director said to me, "Vy do you vant to be an acteh?" I didn't know how to answer, so I didn't say anything. And he said, "To express yourself!" And I said, "Yeah, yeah, that's it. That's right."
  • [on witnessing the terrorist attack on New York on 9/11/2001] I left a meeting right after they hit the World Trade Center. I went to my apartment, which looks south, and I watched it out my window. I could see the line of fire across the North Tower. I had my binoculars and a video camera--though I didn't want to video it. I saw a few people jump. Then I saw the South Tower go. It was so unreal, I had to confirm it by immediately looking at the television screen. CNN was on. That was the only way to make it real. Like my son said: "It was like watching the moon fall".
  • The hardest thing about being famous is that people are always nice to you. You're in a conversation and everybody's agreeing with what you're saying--even if you say something totally crazy. You need people who can tell you what you don't want to hear.
  • I didn't have a problem with rejection, because when you go into an audition, you're rejected already. There are hundreds of other actors. You're behind the eight ball when you go in there. At this point in my career, I don't have to deal with audition rejections. So I get my rejection from other things. My children can make me feel rejected. They can humble you pretty quick.
  • Money makes your life easier. If you're lucky to have it, you're lucky.
  • I only go to Los Angeles when I am paid for it.
  • Nobody has moved me from my seat yet. But, just in case, I've bought my own restaurants.
  • [on What Just Happened (2008)] This is as close as it gets to what it can be like to be in the middle of this stuff. The fear factor is always there--everything from losing tens of millions of dollars on a film that doesn't work to not being able to get a good table in a top restaurant because your last movie flopped.
  • It is good to have a few other interests [restaurants, hotels, the TriBeca Film Festival]. But my main interest has always been movies--making them, directing them, being involved. I have never lost the passion for that.
  • I like New York because I can still walk the streets and sit down in a bar or restaurant and observe people. If you can't properly observe, as an actor, you're finished. The impression sometimes given is that I can't leave my own home without being recognized or bothered in the street. That's just not true. I can go out, at leisure, meet people for lunch or take my kids to the park. I don't think I am glamorous enough for Hollywood.
  • I have lived in Los Angeles, working in Hollywood, countless times, doing movies. I am not against the place. I was not a young actor kicking around, living by the seat of my pants, desperate for work. I went by invitation, and my experiences have been good ones. But I have never chosen to live there full-time.
  • I've always done comedies. There were comic elements in Mean Streets (1973) and even Taxi Driver (1976). And I did The King of Comedy (1982). I've always had what I consider to be a good sense of humor. There is this image that has been built up--invented, more like--and there's me, living the life. I do not consider myself some sort of acting legend, just an actor doing his best with the material that is there at the time.
  • You can look into my background all you like, but I have never had problems with authority on film sets. Even if I disagree with a director, I work through it. I am also not one for regrets. I don't regret any film I've made, because there was a reason for making it at the time. If it hasn't worked out, then don't spend time worrying about why and how. Just move on to the next project.
  • Difficult? Me? I don't think I am difficult compared to other people. It is hard to make a movie at the best of times, so you don't want to give people a hard time. People all have their own agendas. But it is not worth acting out something from your own history to make a point on a film set. If you have a problem with, say, your father or some other father figure, why give the director a tough time?
  • [on Martin Scorsese] I wish I had that knowledge of movies that he has. He's like an encyclopedia. I could call him up and ask him about a certain movie, and he would know about it. He's seen everything, it's great.
  • [on the lengths he will go to disappear into a part] You don't just play a part. You've got to earn the right to play them.
  • [on Martin Scorsese] I really hope I get to do another movie with him again.
  • [on Angelina Jolie and Helen Mirren] She [Jolie] is my dream co-star and I love to work with her. It depends on the project [as to who would be] at the top of my list . . . wonderful actresses.
  • I always wanted to direct. Directing is a lot more of a commitment though, a lot more time. I like directors who do very few takes, they know what they want. As for me, I know when I have a shot, but I might want back up, and one other take. You never know. If it's about capturing a moment, you're never going to be able to go back and repeat it, you go with it. It's a tricky thing. I go through all the footage, and look at everything.
  • Some things you learn from just being in movies, so I see what's getting done, how it's getting done. I know what making a film is going to take, how much time. I almost don't even think about it. If I'm in a movie, I can sense if something is not quite right, if the rhythm is off.
  • I know it's important to give everybody as much freedom as you can so that they don't feel there are any limitations. With any mistake they could make, everything is fine. And then they're not afraid to try things or trust you when you say, "Look, let's try and go in this direction." That's very important with actors--and all other creative elements.
  • [on being cast in The Deer Hunter (1978)] I talked with the millworkers, drank and ate with them, played pool. I tried to become as close to being a steelworker as possible, and I would have worked a shift at the mill but they wouldn't let me.
  • I just can't fake acting. I know movies are an illusion, and maybe the first rule is to fake it, but not for me. I'm too curious. I want to deal with all the facts of the character, thin or fat.
  • [2013, on the release of the restored version of The King of Comedy (1982)] I was a big fan of the script and was very excited to do it with Marty [Martin Scorsese] and happy that we finally made it. The fact that it's been restored--hard to believe that so many years have passed--is even all the better, and I can't wait to see it on our closing night.
  • The first time I went to Vegas, I was 17. I had a friend who was a dealer in a casino. It was real desert, still like the Wild West. Apparently, there's a nightclub scene now. Back then, you gambled and then, at 4:00 a.m., you went to the lounges to see [Frank Sinatra] sing.
  • When you're directing, you think of everything . . . The few times I've directed, if someone comes up with something you missed, you're glad to hear that.
  • I'm hoping that if things work out with digital technology, they can finally make us look younger and I can go on for another 40 years.
  • [on the death of his Flawless (1999) co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman] I'm very, very saddened by the passing of Phil. He was a wonderful actor. This is one of those times where you say, "This just shouldn't be. He was so young and gifted and had so much going, so much to live for." My family and I send our deepest condolences to his family.
  • [on theatre] I like movies. I mean, I'd do a play if I could find a great play, a modern play, a new play. But you can do more with film. I like the illusion. In like that you can create something and do it over and then put it together like a big puzzle. With a play, the most you can do is videotape it once and then put it in the archive at the Lincoln Center. Films last. You put it on the screen and it's there forever, a little piece of history.
  • [on the cast reunion for the 25th anniversary of Goodfellas (1990)] We sometimes run into each other. What happens is, you see each other 10 or 15 years later, and it is as if the time has not passed. Because we got to know each other so well at an emotional or spiritual level; and it never goes away.
  • [on Donald Trump] I mean he's so blatantly stupid. He's a punk, he's a dog, he's a pig, he's a con, he's a mutt who doesn't know what he's talking about, he doesn't do his homework, doesn't care, thinks he's gaming his society, doesn't pay his taxes, he's an idiot. Colin Powell said it best, he's a national disaster. He's an embarrassment to this country. It makes me so angry that this country has gotten to this point that this fool, this bozo, has wound up where he has. He talks how he wants to punch people in the face; well, I'd like to punch him in the face. This is somebody we want for president? I don't think so. What I care about is the direction of this country, and what I'm very, very worried about is that it might go in the wrong direction with someone like Donald Trump.
  • [on Donald Trump] I said that because he said that about somebody, that he would like to punch them in the face. How dare he say that to the crowd? How dare he say the things he does? Of course, I want to punch him in the face. It was only a symbolic thing, anyway. It wasn't like I was going to go find him and punch him in the face. But he's got to hear it. He's got to hear that, you know, that's how he makes people feel. It's not good to feel that way. It's not good to start that stuff up, but at the same time, sometimes when people are bullies like that, that's what you have to do to shut them up. Bully them back.
  • [on Parkland student activists] They're the ones that feel the way we do, not the way the gun lovers and the NRA do, with all that idiocy to the point of absurdity.
  • The people that I care about are those young people who demonstrated. They're the future. They know. They say, "We'll remember in November". They're the ones that feel the way we do, not the way the gun lovers and the NRA do, with all that idiocy to the point of absurdity.
  • [on Donald J. Trump] If he was smart, he'd be even more dangerous. He's dangerous as it is. He's terrible, and a flat-out blatant racist and doubling down on that, and it's good that he does because he's going to sink himself.
  • The [Donald J. Trump] administration's mean-spiritedness towards our art and entertainment is an expression of their mean-spirited attitude about people who want that art and entertainment, people who also want and deserve decent wages, a fair tax system, a safe environment, education for their children and health care for all. All of us in film--directors, actors, writers, crews, audiences--owe a debt to [Charles Chaplin], an immigrant who probably wouldn't pass today's extreme vetting. I hope we're not keeping out the next Chaplin.
  • I could play somebody who's a total lunatic. I could play somebody who's a member of the NRA. It doesn't mean I subscribe to that. That's what an actor does.
  • I am talking about my own country, the United States of America. We don't like to say we are a backward country so let's just say we're suffering from a case of temporary insanity.
  • I can't articulate it well enough other than to say it's ridiculous. It's idiotic. This guy [President Donald J. Trump] has sullied the presidency. He's debased the presidency. It's just beyond surreal what this guy has done. He's a mutt. Every word I said then I mean today. He has not changed.
  • Our government today, with the propping of the baby-in-chief [President Donald J. Trump]--the jerk-off-in-chief, I call him--has put the press under siege, ridiculing it through trying to discredit it through outrageous attacks and lies.
  • Everyone knows [Charles Chaplin] was a great artist, but he made his movies to entertain. It was only later that they became art.
  • Are you sure you want to do this? Do you have any idea what's happened to our world in the four years you've been here? Well, the country's going crazy. In movie terms, when you started school, the country was an inspiring uplifting drama. You're graduating into a tragic dumbass comedy . . . Work for the change. Work to stop the insanity. Start now so the class of 2018 will graduate into a better world.
  • Personally, I don't like a lot of violence, believe it or not. I always feel that violence should be done in a way that it's believable, real, and justified. You'd like to think movies have some good intentions with violence, if you will, that there's a reason for it, that it's not gratuitous, but that doesn't always happen.
  • I've been thinking about this a lot lately because of our government's hostility towards art. The budget proposal, among its other draconian cuts to life-saving and life-enhancing programs, eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For their own divisive political purposes, the [Donald J. Trump] administration suggests that the money for these all-inclusive programs goes to rich liberal elites. This is what they now call an "alternative fact", but I call it bullshit. I don't make movies for 'rich, liberal elites. I've got my restaurants for that. I--and all of us speaking here tonight--make them for you.
  • One thing that there should be is some regulation of guns. It's crazy how almost anyone can get access to a gun. That itself is not so good.
  • The movie gave us glimpses of President Nixon as delusional, narcissistic, petty, vindictive, nasty and bat shit fucking crazy. Ah, the good old days.
  • [on Donald J. Trump, before receiving a standing ovation at the 2018 Tony awards] I wanna say one thing: fuck Trump, It's no longer "Down with Trump", it's "fuck Trump".
  • [on Roseanne Barr] I've never seen her show before, I didn't know she was supporting [Donald J. Trump], but I have no interest in that. We're at a point with all of this where it's beyond trying to see another person's point of view. There are ways you can talk about that, but we're at a point where the things that are happening in our country are so bad and it comes from Trump. There are so many people who have left his administration. It's a serious thing. So I don't care about Roseanne. They want that thing, fine. We have real issues in this country.
  • The Fourth Estate (2015) is an obvious one and a necessary film to see . . . It's about "The New York Times" and following the various reporters around and what they're dealing with on a daily basis. It's just important to watch that, to see how they deal with the truth, and how the truth is distorted, and to see how they're just trying to keep things in balance. It's insanity with [Donald J. Trump] and his gang. They all buy into it. The only one I think who has any kind of dignity in his whole group is [Secretary of Defense James Mattis]. The rest are all hopeless.
  • America's being run by a madman [Donald J. Trump] who won't recognize the truth . . . When he doesn't like what he hears, he dismisses it by saying it's un-American and damning it as "fake news". But we know the truth. All thinking people do know the truth. Your job is difficult enough without being attacked by our lowlife-in-chief. That's the new name I have for him.
  • Sadly, in my country, we are going through a grotesque version of nationalism ... marked by greed, xenophobia and selfishness under the banner of "America First".
  • I used to joke that Trump would shake it up and now I give him big credit, full credit: he shook it up all right, big time, made everybody including myself much more aware of our civic duty to stand up and make our voices heard about what's happening in this country. We have a lot of problems that we have to work together to fix. It all sounds very noble and all that, but that's the truth. Let's start at home.
  • I don't want to play him [Trump] ever. I always find the character's point of view and I can of course find his, but I have so little sympathy for him, for what he's done, the responsibility he's been given and just thrown away. He doesn't care. I always say every person has a story that's interesting. It's how you tell it. And of course his 'how you tell it' would be interesting, too, but I've not seen one moment of reflection from him, ever. He knows what he is and everything he says negative about people or things is really a projection of himself. I don't know how he was raised but I never thought there'd be evil people - He's not even evil. He's mundane.
  • I have to be. I look at it like we're in a nightmare now and it's going to pass. I'll look back on this hopefully, if I'm still around and say, well, we knew it could happen, it will always change for the better. I have to be optimistic that we'll have people come in with the right intentions to run this country.
  • You need somebody who's strong enough to outmouth him - because that's all he is, mouth - and smart enough and well-informed enough in a debate, say, to override all that nonsense that he does, because basically it's just name-calling. He has no substance. I don't know how people fall for it. He's just a big blowhard. But it ain't over till it's over as far as I'm concerned with a guy like him because he's a dirty player.
  • We have to really solve the problem with the country and people who are dissatisfied and are so angry that they vote for him thinking that he'd make a difference and not seeing that he in no way will make a difference. There has to be a way for people to come together and work it out and help the people who are in pain now in certain parts of the country that I, as a New Yorker living here, am not aware of. I feel that Obama tried to, at least. He made mistakes, I'm sure, but you have to try and encompass everyone and it made us aware of this schism in the country through what's happening now.
  • Yeah, I worry, and one of my kids is gay, and he worries about being treated a certain way. We talk about it.
  • I mean, a mob boss calls people 'a rat'. That means you lied and somebody snitched on you, so you did commit the crime. So that's interesting and he makes mobsters look bad because there are mobsters who will shake your hand and keep their word. He can't even do that. He's a con artist. He's a huckster. He's a scam artist. And what bothers me is that people don't see that. I think that The Apprentice had a lot to do with that, which I never saw but once, maybe. It's all smoke and mirrors, it's all bullshit.
  • [on Donald Trump] I never had an interest in meeting him. He's a buffoon. If he walked into a restaurant that I was in, I would leave. I would not want to be there.
  • I guess that's what it leads to. If he had his way, we'd wind up in a very bad state in this country. I mean, the way I understand it, they laughed at Hitler. They all look funny. Hitler looked funny, Mussolini looked funny and other dictators and despots look funny. What bothers me is that there will be people in the future who see him as an example and they'll be affected in some way, but they'll be a lot smarter and have many more colours to their personality and be more mercurial and become someone with the same values as he has but able to get much further and do more damage as a despot. That's my worry. There are people who look up to him: 'I want to be like him.' But they'll do it much better and they'll be more smart about it.
  • Rupert Murdoch became a citizen of this country; look what he's contributed by this. This is what he's going to leave. This is his legacy. It's disgraceful. He's cynical, amoral, but he has a responsibility. He came here as an immigrant, technically, and look what he did. You cannot justify having Fox News as a mouthpiece for the government. It's wrong. It's beyond disgusting.
  • The things that Trump has done; if Obama had done one fiftieth, they'd be all over him. That's why I feel that Democrats have to be more aggressive. You've got to stand up, you can't be so gentlemanly all the time because you've just got to say: 'Sorry, I'm nice to a point, then I've got to push back.' You have to fight fire with fire. You've got to say: 'I'm sorry - let's call a spade a spade. You are who you are and we've got to confront you at your own game and that's what's needed.' You can do it in a nice way but you have to be hard and tough about it.
  • Even gangsters have morals-they have ethics, they have a code, and you know, when you give somebody your word that's all you have is your word, especially in that world.
  • I won't do it again because that's not the way to get things done. [But] I felt that this is something I should say because it's basic. Trump is basic. He's just a guy who just thinks he can rattle off his mouth and say anything. Well, I want to say the same thing to him: there are people who are going to say the same thing back to you, no matter who you are.
  • [on Barack Obama] I felt we were on a new thing. I didn't realise how against him certain people were - racially against him, offended that he was there.
  • I'm older now and I'm just upset about what's going on. When you see someone like [Trump] becoming president, I thought, well, OK, let's see what he does - maybe he'll change. But he just got worse. It showed me that he is a real racist. I thought maybe as a New Yorker he understands the diversity in the city but he's as bad as I thought he was before - and much worse. It's a shame. It's a bad thing in this country.
  • You can feel the history, the echo of the entertainers. In this administration, during these disturbing times of promoting racism, tonight, we reject it. No you don't, not here, not on this stage.