Oscar-winning actor, who is promoting new film The Intern, objects to ‘negative inference’ in journalist’s questions
Robert De Niro has stormed out of an interview with the Radio Times after saying the journalist was asking him questions with a “negative inference”.
The Oscar-winning star of Raging Bull was promoting his new comedy The Intern when he objected to a line of questioning from interviewer Emma Brockes. De Niro was unhappy with a suggestion that Tribeca, home to the New York film festival he co-founded, had been overrun by bankers, and a question about how he avoids falling into “autopilot” mode on set.
According to Brockes, who also writes features and a column for the Guardian, the actor then asked her to pause the recorder and got out of his chair, paced about “madly” before cutting the interview short because of the “negative inference” of what she had said.
“What, about the bankers?!” she asked. De Niro responded: “All the way through. Negative inference.” Brockes then asked where else he was referring to and he replied: “The whole way through and I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it, darling.” He then stuck his head out of the door to find someone to take him out of the room.
Brockes told the Guardian she was astonished at the actor’s reaction, and “felt sympathy” for De Niro, who had sat through a long day of multiple interviews with members of the foreign press, as is commonplace when promoting a Hollywood film.
“When someone is being uncooperative in that kind of interview, when they are obviously grumpy and knackered, you ask them a number of straightforward questions and you leave,” she said. “You try to be respectful and polite, which I was. It wasn’t a hostile interview. Poor guy – who would want to be contractually obliged to do this stuff? But you make the best of it so you can go home.”
According to the interview, published in this week’s edition of Radio Times, when Brockes asked De Niro to explain where he felt she was being negative, he said: “The question about being on autopilot – negative inference.”
She replied: “Wait, but I asked that question to establish how it is you manage not to be on autopilot.” He repeated: “There’s a negative inference.”
Brockes then said: “I have to say, now that you’re going on about it, it makes me think you were on autopilot and you’re super-sensitive about it.” He repeated: “I’m not doing this darling.”
The journalist admits she “lost her cool”, telling De Niro: “I think you’re very condescending.” “Oh, you think ‘darling’ is condescending?” said the actor, before the interview was ended.
The Intern sees De Niro starring opposite Anne Hathaway as an intern for her fashion website. The film is already receiving negative reviews with the Hollywood Reporter calling it a “middling star vehicle”.