Writer Emma Brockes recently put up with Robert De Niro “glumly” answering questions, referring to her as “darling,” and eventually cutting short their interview. Emma Brockes is a lucky writer, indeed.
A Radio Times print story (that doesn’t appear to have been published online) sourced from press junket interviews about the upcoming movie The Intern in all likelihood would have been ignored by the general public if everyone had behaved themselves and said emptily pleasant things to promote their film. But now, thanks to De Niro’s refusal to participate, Brockes’s story is an actual story. It’s everywhere. Isn’t the world a crazy place?
The Independent has reprinted much of Brockes’s account, which claims a “depressed”-looking De Niro answered a few perfunctory questions before they arrived at the question that shut down the interview:
But the Oscar-winner bridled when his inquisitor, Emma Brockes, asked how he resists the temptation to go into “autopilot” mode on set, followed by her observation that the Tribeca district of New York, where De Niro co-founded a film festival, has been taken over by bankers.
De Niro, 72, asked Brockes to pause her recorder. She wrote in the magazine: “He then pops up out of his chair, starts pacing madly and says he’s cutting short the interview because of the ‘negative inference’ of what I just said.
“‘What, about the bankers?!’ I am amazed. ‘All the way through,’ says De Niro. ‘All the way through. Negative inference.’ ‘Er, like where else?’ ‘The whole way through and I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it, darling.’”
Ms Brockes protested that all she has been doing was asking questions about De Niro’s methods as an actor. De Niro replied: “You’re probably not even aware that you’re doing it. The negative inference.”
At this point, Brockes wrote, De Niro had his head out the door, looking for someone to scoop him up and deliver him from this junket hell. It was then that they started to bicker. Brockes reportedly asked him, “Hang on. So where else am I being negative?”
‘The question about being on autopilot — negative inference,’ he tells me. ‘Wait, but I asked that question to establish how it is you manage not to be on autopilot.’ ‘There’s a negative inference.’
‘I have to say, now that you’re going on about it, it makes me think you were on auto-pilot and you’re super-sensitive about it.’”
The encounter concluded: “His jaw is working and he looks wildly around the room as if in search of a window to jump through. ‘I’m not doing this, darling,’ he says. ‘I think you’re very condescending.’ ‘Oh, you think ‘darling’ is condescending?’”
Has he never seen Showgirls? Of course it is. Also, I guess she didn’t actually pause her recorder? If not: good for her.
Brockes also reported this bit from earlier in the press junket:
De Niro had attended a roundtable press conference alongside Hathaway and director of The Intern Nancy Meyers before sitting down with Brockes. When Hathaway teared up, explaining what an honour it was to work with the star of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, “De Niro looks baffled and vaguely appalled,” Brockes wrote.
De Niro is known for being taciturn, which led Brockes to give the Independent this quote, reflecting on her story: “I was expecting him to be a little quiet but the combination of hostility and condescension irritated me and I ended up losing my cool. I certainly didn’t go in looking for an argument but when it happened I did think, ‘At least he’s finally saying something.’”
And through his saying something, Brockes was able to say something. Funny how it all worked out.
[Image via Getty]