Robert De Niro gave anti-Donald Trump protesters across the United States his backing Friday as he spoke about how “depressed” the tycoon’s win in the presidential election had made him. The 73-year-old star was on the red carpet at the world premiere of his new film “The Comedian” in Los Angeles when he was asked how he was coping with Trump’s victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. “How am I doing? I’m very depressed,” the famously laconic “Raging Bull” actor told reporters. “We have to just wait and see how things go and keep our eyes ever vigilant on the new government.”
Asked if he thought the protests were an appropriate response to the outcome of Tuesday’s election, he replied: “Yes, absolutely. Things aren’t being done right.” Demonstrators took to the streets in Miami, Los Angeles, New York and other US cities for a third straight night on Friday. In Manhattan, they held signs reading “Your Wall Can’t Stand in Our Way” – a reference to the anti-immigration barrier the billionaire has promised to build on the US border with Mexico. De Niro hasn’t minced his words in his criticism of Trump, describing him as “a punk”, “a pig” and “an idiot”. “I’d like to punch him in the face,” he said before the election.
Earlier in the day a town in southern Italy where De Niro’s grandparents came from offered the actor a means of escape. “If, after the disappointment of Trump, he wants to take refuge here, we are ready to welcome him,” said Antonio Cerio, the mayor of Ferrazzano. “The Comedian,” De Niro’s passion project which took him eight years to bring to the big screen, was part of this year’s program for the American Film Institute’s annual AFI Fest in Los Angeles.
‘Be a Man’
The New Yorker stars as an aging stand-up comic looking to revive his once successful career with one last shot at the big time. Guests at the screening included De Niro’s co-stars Danny De Vito and Leslie Mann, as well as the movie’s director Taylor Hackford and his wife, the British film star Helen Mirren. Mirren complained, tongue in cheek, that her husband of 19 years was “not particularly” funny despite directing a film full of jokes.
“He refuses to laugh at my jokes, which I find very annoying. But it’s a look at the world of comedy and the world of comedy is actually not a very funny world,” the 71-year-old said. “Although it’s got a lot of jokes in it, it’s quite a serious world.” Hackford, who directed “An Officer and a Gentleman” in 1982, echoed De Niro’s thoughts on Trump, calling on the president-elect to “stand up and be a man.”
He praised his star for demonstrating the same commitment in learning how to be a convincing stand-up as he had in transforming into a passable boxer for “Raging Bull”. “I took him to comedy clubs two to three times a week – we’d see five, six, seven comics a night – looking for him to choose a style,” Hackford, 71, said. “And once he did, he dove into this process. He had to submerge. The fact is he’s got to get up on stage alone with a microphone like a comic does and play to a real audience.” “The Comedian” gets its general release in the United States on Jan 13. AFI Fest, which runs until Thursday next week, shows many of the movies considered frontrunners for Oscars glory. – AFP