Monday 19 March 2018

Robert De Niro on father’s struggles with being gay: ‘I wish we'd spoken about it much more’

Robert De Niro (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival)
Robert De Niro (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival)

Jenn Selby

Robert De Niro has discussed the difficulties his father, the artist Robert De Niro SR, faced coming to terms with his homosexuality.

The Taxi Driver actor is set to release a new documentary called Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr, in which he explores the life of the late the painter and sculptor.

“He probably was (conflicted about his sexuality),” the actor, 70, told OUT Magazine. “Being from that generation, especially from a small town upstate (in New York).

“I was not aware, much, of it. I wish we had spoken about it much more. My mother didn't want to talk about things in general, and you're not interested when you're a certain age.

“Again, for my kids, I want them to stop and take a moment and realise that you sometimes have to do things now instead of later, because later may be 20 years from now - and that's too late.”

De Niro went on to describe his own relationship with his father.

“We were not the type of father and son who played baseball together, as you can surmise,” he said. “But we had a connection.

“I wasn't with him a lot, because my mother and he were separated and divorced… He was absent in some ways. (But) he was very loving. He adored me… as I do my kids.”

Despite the fact his De Niro SR died more than 20 years ago, the actor continues to preserve his art studio and final resting place in SoHo, New York.

“It was the only way to keep his being, his existence alive. To me, he was always a great artist.”

Still determined to keep his memory alive, De Niro has taken on the task of producing the documentary, which is set to premiere on HBO on 9 June.

“I felt I had to. I felt obligated,” he explained. “It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him. I was always planning on doing it, but never did. Then Jane Rosenthal, my partner at Tribeca [Enterprises], said, ‘We should start doing that now.' It was not intended to be on HBO. It was just something I wanted to do."

Watch the trailer for Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr below.


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