Robert De Niro, who received a career tribute at Marrakech Film Festival on Saturday, was grilled by French actress-turned-director Maiwenn during a 90-minute masterclass, which drew hundreds of Moroccan fans, industry figures as well as fellow filmmakers and talent.
Maiwenn, who is best-known for directing personal, emotionally charged movies such as “Mon Roi” and “Polisse,” tried in vain to bring the notoriously private actor to discuss his childhood and intimate issues – questions ranging from his relationship with his mother to his onscreen lovers and real-life tragedies fell flat.
“I should be in an analyst’s chair,” joked De Niro after being asked if he had received enough love from his mother. “She was an artist, an academic,” said De Niro, before adding that he thought of making a documentary about his mother, as he did about his father in the HBO documentary “Remembering the Artist.”
In one of her most pertinent questions, Maiween asked De Niro why he had only worked once with a woman director (Agnes Varda). “I don’t know, I don’t have a problem working with a woman.(…) If it’s a good script I’d do it.”
Discussing his most stressful shoots, De Niro said he felt particularly anxious during the lensing of “The Score” with Marlon Brando. “Marlon was upset with the director (Frank Oz) and he wanted me to direct a scene,” said De Niro. The hurdle, he said, was that it was a five-page scene in which he also starred. “I was terribly anxious before we started shooting it, and then it was fine,” said De Niro.
The actor also talked about his political activism and drew a parallel between Sonny, the gangster character in his film “Bronx’s Tale,” and U.S. President Donald Trump. “(Sonny) is a gentleman; someone like Trump would like to be like Sonny, who has a code of ethics within his world.”
De Niro praised Martin Scorsese for giving him the freedom to experiment different things on set. “We all have crazy moments (…). Marty will let you go as far as you need to go and worry about it later, and he’ll use it.”
“Some directors don’t think that way. If you offer this kind of a left turn or out-of-the-box type of thing, they’ll just say let’s move on. Marty just has that capacity to let you do what you want to do.”
A day before, during his press conference, De Niro told journalists that he and Scorsese were discussing with Netflix about plans to bow their latest film together “The Irishman” in big venues. “I love the big screen and I think certain movies have to be shown on a big screen, especially our movie. (…) In the beginning, we’re talking about big venues where it should play. What happens after that I don’t know,” said De Niro. “The contradiction is that the money we’re fortunate to get from Netflix has been very good (…) so hopefully they’ll be some kind of a compromise.”