Robert De Niro in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Eye on the Oscars: The Actor - Supporting Actor Contender

Though his role in David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” is a supporting one, producer Donna Gigliotti insists that without Robert De Niro’s participation, the movie wouldn’t exist.

“David really had Bob in his mind when he wrote the role of Pat Sr.,” she says. “If Bob had said no, I don’t know that we would have made the movie. That’s how important he was.”

De Niro’s character is a rabid Philadelphia Eagles fan with obsessive-compulsive habits when it comes to rooting for his beloved team. When De Niro’s onscreen son, played by Bradley Cooper, returns home after time in a mental institution, he’s not sure how or if he can help him.

In real life, De Niro has looked out for Cooper. When Cooper submitted an audition tape for the De Niro starrer “Everybody’s Fine,” Cooper recalls, “He called me in, and even though he probably knew I wouldn’t get the role, he offered me encouragement and told me to keep doing what I was doing. That meant the world to me. That’s a testament to his class as an individual.”

Though some are calling the two-time Oscar winner’s wry, sensitive turn a return to form, Gigliotti begs to differ.

“People want to talk of this as a comeback for Bob, but the truth is, he never left us,” she declares. “He puts as much thought and effort into ‘Meet the Fockers’ as he does in ‘Silver Linings Playbook.’ That’s who he is as an actor.

He’s 69 years old and a guy who likes to work. He just doesn’t get roles like this very often that allow him to be soulful and soul-searching.”

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