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Saturday, October 26, 2013
DE NIRO TALKS ABOUT WORKING WITH DE PALMA
SAYS DE PALMA & SCORSESE ARE SUPPORTERS OF IMPROVISATION
Thanks to Rado for sending in this great interview with Robert De Niro, conducted by Studio Ciné Live's Thomas Baurez. Baurez asks De Niro about making comedies with Brian De Palma early in his career:

"The first time I auditioned for Brian, I was 19! It was for his student film The Wedding Party, then we made Greetings and Hi, Mom! I remember very clearly how I ended up at the audition. I saw the ad in a trade newspaper. Brian’s number was there. I called him. He set up a meeting in a small apartment. He watched me play and then hired me. I was very excited. That was my first real role. The tone of the film alternated between drama and comedy. Brian is essentially a spectator. He reacts directly to your acting. If he isn’t laughing while shooting, it means you haven’t been funny. He doesn’t hesitate to make you improvise until you find the right tempo. In those days, an overwritten script would shut me off, I had to get out of it and let myself go. Brian De Palma loved that."

Baurez then asks De Niro if such improvisation is essential to his natural approach to acting. De Niro replies, "Yes, but I have to have respect for the words of my script! When working from a script by David Mamet, for example, you must follow the rhythm, the beat of the language, otherwise it creates an imbalance. A filmmaker like Michael Mann may have a surgical accuracy. It's not an obsession, but simply a requirement of the script. The structure of Heat was completely chiseled that my character should remain cold. The role required great self-control. No filmmaker is obtuse, a priori, otherwise it would break the spontaneity of the actor. De Palma and Scorsese are supporters of improvisation. If they are quick to rewrite some things during filming, they have the general structure of the film in mind.

This past summer, De Palma told George Stroumboulopoulos his recollections about that first audition with De Niro:

"He came in to an audition. We were in a loft in the Village and we put an ad in the Village Voice and we were just seeing one actor after another then this sort of timid kid came in, the last one in. We had him do a little improvisation and we thought 'Hey, this kid is pretty good' and he said ok, but there's something I've been preparing in my class can I show it to you. The kid had the part, I mean, okay. So he goes outside and we're sititng around and it's like 5, 10 15 [minutes], we figured he had gone home and then he came in a did this incredible scene from 'The Strike', the Clifford Odets play about the taxi strike. He was ranting and raving and [yells] and you think, holy mackerel. That's Bob De Niro."


Posted by Geoff at 2:26 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, October 26, 2013 2:34 AM CDT
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013
TRAILER: BESSON - DE NIRO - PFEIFFER - ARBOGAST
"THERE WAS A TIME WHEN I HAD IT ALL. PEOPLE WOULD ASK ME, 'WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING UNTOUCHABLE?'"

Posted by Geoff at 11:30 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 5:23 PM CDT
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Sunday, May 15, 2011
CANNES TRIBUTE TO DE NIRO
SHOWN DURING LAST WEDNESDAY'S OPENING CEREMONY

The above video is the Robert De Niro tribute screened this past Wednesday during the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival, where De Niro is this year's head of the jury. The tribute includes a couple of clips from The Untouchables, and a brief clip from Hi, Mom!

Posted by Geoff at 2:04 AM CDT
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Friday, August 6, 2010
DOUBLE DE PALMA/DE NIRO AT THE NEW BEV
THE UNTOUCHABLES AND HI, MOM! SCREEN THIS WEEKEND
The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles is screening a Brian De Palma/Robert De Niro double bill this weekend, featuring The Untouchables and Hi, Mom!. It seems a good time to note that these two films have at least one interesting connection beyond the De Palma/De Niro one: in each film, De Palma presents a contrast between a man on a mission and a wife who is preoccupied with the color of her kitchen. As Eliot Ness says in The Untouchables, "Some part of the world still cares what color their kitchen is.” Although it should also be noted that Hi, Mom!'s Jon Rubin hardly seems to agree with the notion put forward in The Untouchables that "it's good to be married."

UPDATE 8-7-10 Come to think of it, there is another interesting link between the films-- an almost literal bumper sort of link involving the final two scenes of Hi, Mom! and the first two scenes of The Untouchables. After De Niro as Jon blows up the apartment building in the second-to-last scene in Hi, Mom!, he comes back and meets the press as a just-returning war veteran from Vietnam deploring the violence he has to come home to, and that he has, in fact, knowingly caused (he actually had returned at the beginning of the film). The Untouchables opens with De Niro as Al Capone meeting the press in a barber chair, followed by a scene in which a bomb explodes in a little girl's hands-- and we are, of course, led to believe that Capone is the one in control of the organization that has delivered this bomb, despite Capone's insistence to the press in the previous scene that neither he nor anybody he employs has anything to do with such violence. The Untouchables was the next film De Niro made with De Palma, 17 years after Hi, Mom!, and this thematic link seems so well planned out, one would almost think that it was, indeed, planned out...

Posted by Geoff at 1:15 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, August 8, 2010 12:11 PM CDT
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Thursday, June 4, 2009
DE NIRO TALKIN' 'BOUT SISTERS
EARLY DE PALMA SCRIPTS PART OF DE NIRO COLLECTION
Austin's University of Texas' Harry Ransom Center recently opened to the public a treasure trove of film materials donated in 2006 by Robert De Niro. The materials cover De Niro's career from the 1960s to 2005, and includes several De Palma-related items that make a trip to Austin a necessity. One of the most startling discoveries among the collection (which I haven't yet seen) is a screenplay for Sisters, written by De Palma and Louisa Rose, with De Niro's notes included. The screenplay is circa 1970, the same year De Niro starred with Sisters' Jennifer Salt in De Palma's Hi, Mom!.

Speaking of the latter, the collection also boasts several scripts associated with that project, which began life as a screenplay by De Palma and Chuck Hirsch titled "Son Of Greetings." The De Niro collection contains the latter screenplay, also with the actor's notes, as well as an annotated typescript of the original story by De Palma and Hirsch. Also most likely related to that project is an original film treatment (circa 1970) by De Palma titled "Home Movie," which includes one single note written by De Niro. De Palma would go on to make a film titled Home Movies in 1979-80, but this treatment seems more likely something like the David Holzman's Diary-inspired section of Hi, Mom! that ended up transformed into the film we have today. But who knows-- perhaps when we visit the museum and look at the collection, we'll find something entirely different.

THE WEDDING PARTY & THE UNTOUCHABLES
Also in the collection is an undated shooting script for De Niro's first film, The Wedding Party, complete with De Niro's notes. There is also a June 1964 calendar marked out with scenes from the project. There is also an early and incomplete draft of David Mamet's screenplay for The Untouchables, again with De Niro's notes, as well as a version dated July 22 1986, and subsequent revisions from September and October. There are also several photographs of Al Capone with De Niro's notes, and two copies of Neil Elliott's My Years with Capone, one of which is annotated by De Niro. There are also Untouchables-related production materials, including make-up/hair continuity, wardrobe polaroids, publicity materials, a premiere invitation, and a copy of John Kobler's 1971 book Capone with Mamet's handwritten notes throughout the text.

Also included in the collection are production photographs from Hi, Mom!, and publicity flyers and photographs from Greetings. Oh, and a couple of other gems of interest: two correspondences from De Palma to De Niro, along with notes from Scorsese, Spielberg, Coppola, Frankenheimer, and several outgoing letters from De Niro. View the preliminary inventory list right here.

DE NIRO CHANNELS SPRINGSTEEN
And finally, the real reason I chose the above image from Taxi Driver: according to the Daily Express, Clarence Clemons, who coached De Niro on how to play saxophone for Scorsese's New York, New York, recently told the New York Daily News that De Niro got the famous "You talkin' to me" line in Scorsese's Taxi Driver from Bruce Springsteen. "[De Niro] had been to one of our concerts," said Clemons, "and the audience was yelling out 'Bruce!' In those days, Bruce would stop onstage and say, 'You talkin' to me?' De Niro was kind of channeling him."


Posted by Geoff at 12:04 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, June 4, 2009 1:57 AM CDT
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