Robert De Niro Remembers the Film Business Nearly 50 Years Ago

Robert Dinero Big Break in Hollywood
Caroline Andrieu for Variety

Nearly 50 years after his film debut, Robert De Niro is going strong, with upcoming projects including David O. Russell’s “Joy.” Earlier this year, the actor promoted the HBO documentary “Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.,” about his late father, the abstract expressionist painter. De Niro, Sr. won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1968 — the same year his son appeared on screen in Brian De Palma’s “Greetings,” his first mention in Variety.

Did you audition for “Greetings”?

I auditioned for “The Wedding Party,” which was Brian’s first movie, which he co-directed with Wilford Leach. That was my first movie too. And then he asked me if I wanted to (do “Greetings”) … I don’t think I read for “Greetings.” And then we did “Hi, Mom!” And then we did “The Untouchables.” So we did a big jump.

When you filmed “Greetings,” did you have high hopes, or were you just hoping for distribution?

In those days, I wasn’t even sure how it worked, distribution. I forget who did pick it up, it was so long ago. But I do remember “Greetings” did somewhat well.

Do you remember reading the “Greetings” review? 

I was aware of Variety, but it must have been pointed out to me.

You were busy in those days.

I also had done something in-between (the De Palma films) called “Sam’s Song” (directed by Jordan Leondopoulos), which Cannon Prods. took at the time. They sort of twisted it into a kind of quasi-porno film, because I had some nude scenes with a girl; at that time, films would be done with whatever sex or nude scenes. But it was all made with the most … with the highest artistic intent. There was a very genuine, sincere intention of the writer-director.

1968 was a tumultuous time. Do you have any memories that stand out? 

Well, the Vietnam War was going on and President Johnson, so that was really … There was a lot going on.

Your father won a Guggenheim Fellowship that year. What are your hopes for his work?

My whole thing is that (my father’s) art finds a home, that it’s respected and kept and revered. It’s good art; I’ll say great art because of what he put into it — the time, the effort, his heart and soul.

Click image for large preview

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 2

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Paul Brno says:

    “You talkin’ to me!” In 2002, I worked for three days as a stand in on “Analyze That” & I remember Robert De Niro was very nice to everyone on the set. I’m an actor & I used to work fpr the NYC Dept. of Sanitation with morons & crazy people & I wrote a play about it. And now I been thinking about putting it on U-tube in 5 minute chapters. In about a week or two. ‘I never wanted to be a garbage man, it was all my father’s idea……..

    • Paul Brno says:

      You know, after 24 years the guys I was working with in the NYC Dept. of sanitation when I first started were still morons and crazy people but I somehow got used to working with them. Gyspies, Hustlers, and Clowns, that’s what we were……Campo, Cunningham, Caines, even me! It’s a big world out there…and we’re all a part of it!

More Film News from Variety