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Something about Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro graffitiIn the mid-1970s, Robert De Niro was in danger of getting typecast as a street tough, due to his performances in Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. So he leapt at a chance to play an elegant white-collar guy in The Last Tycoon. De Niro was coached by director Elia Kazan in how to appear intellectual. Kazan wrote about the method-acting exercises they did in his autobiography A Life:

“Again and again I asked him to think one thing as he was saying something quite the opposite… An intellectual, I told him, can seem friendly and generous but is never altogether trustworthy. We are all spies, I told him, rarely offering to those we’re with what we truly think of them. There should always be something that people call “fishy” about you, I said; call it ambivalent.”

Since I read that quote last year, it’s been difficult for me to watch De Niro on screen without imagining him turning double talk into high art.

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