Leave a Comment
There's no question that Robert De Niro is a terrific actor, providing some great performances over the years. He's appeared in a long list of stellar movies such as Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. That's a resume that some actors would kill for, yet De Niro's recent work has not been up to his usual standards, to put it gently. One need only look as far as the recent Dirty Grandpa to realize that the actor has gotten a lot less picky with his projects. Fans and movie buffs could be left wondering if there's a reason for such a drop in quality for De Niro. According to one of his old co-stars, Illeana Douglas, the fault lies less with De Niro and more with the current movie-making environment.
Illeana Douglas has appeared alongside Robert De Niro in the films Goodfellas, Cape Fea, and Guilty by Suspicion. She has some personal experience working with him and knows what he's like on set. Douglas was on Bret Easton Ellis' podcast when the host brought up De Niro's recent string of films. Ellis was curious why De Niro was even appearing in some of these movies and brought up rumors that with a big enough paycheck the 72-year-old actor will do anything. Douglas brought up her own experience working on Goodfellas and how different it is to work in Hollywood today.
I think that, and I can only comment as an outsider and having worked with him on a film like Goodfellas, the environment that was created to play and to make a work of art, that no longer exists. You know, you're talking about an environment where Marty [Scorsese] made crew members remove their watches. Where, on the set of Cape Fear, De Niro caught somebody looking at their watch and the person is yelled at, because it was like: 'we are making art.'And it must be very challenging to be in an environment where it's like 'Yeah we have an hour, let's get this shot, let's get this shot', and so if nobody else cares, why should you care?
She makes a good point, in the sense that the more energy the people around you have, the more energy you'll have as a result. Why give it your A-game if nobody else is? That would explain why it feels like De Niro's been sleepwalking through some of his films. Action, superhero films and reboots have definitely become a priority at most studios, and the market for dramas - De Niro's bread and butter - has dwindled somewhat. That's not to say that big budget genre films can't be made with a passion (the best of them always are), but it's easy to see why an actor whose career took off in the 70's would be disheartened be the sequel-driven status of today.
That being said, nobody really forced Bad Grandpa on him. He's the captain of his own ship, after all. De Niro can still give good performances, like he did in Silver Linings Playbook, so maybe he should be a little bit more picky with the scripts he reads. Here's hoping that he can find a few more great projects to be a part of and with people who will totally throw their watches away for him (which sounds live a diva thing, but De Niro has earned that diva status).