“Shame on you!” the gray-haired, bespectacled man shouts from the stand. His voice is rough with age and hoarse with indignation. He sometimes gets up from his seat passionate about it, sometimes he shakes a fist in the air. The object of his ire is a woman, and she is sitting across from him in a Manhattan courtroom. Millions of dollars are at stake. The reputation of each one as well. It is a scene worthy of a Netflix courtroom drama, even more so given the monumental fame of its protagonist. Only this time it’s not a fictional character.
Robert De Niro, the aforementioned man on the witness stand, shouted in a New York courtroom yesterday afternoon: “Shame on you!” The two-time Oscar winner, 80, has been sued by his former executive assistant and vice president of his production company, Graham Chase Robinson, for $12 million in damages for serious emotional distress and damage to his reputation. Robinson claims he was an abusive boss. De Niro denies the allegations, calling them “nonsense,” and is suing Graham for $6 million, accusing her of spending large sums of company money on her own travel and food. Graham is also accused of “lazing around during work hours, and spending hours watching television shows on Netflix.”
Since he began testifying in court earlier this week, De Niro, according to all journalists present at the trial, has been irascible, angry, loud, cantankerous, annoying, dismissive and brusque. “Taken out,” is how he defined it. TMZ. After a “testy exchange” between him and one of Robinson’s lawyers, the judge was forced to intervene and remind De Niro, and the lawyer, not to raise their voices. While it’s tempting to believe that acting this way in court has shown the world a different side of the beloved actor, hasn’t De Niro always been the living embodiment of Hollywood’s grumpy old man?
From career-defining roles in films like Good boys, casino, Taxi Driver and, more recently, The Moon Killers, over six decades De Niro, perhaps the best actor of his generation, built a reputation as a loner, a tough man, a curmudgeon even before he turned gray (there is an entire article dedicated to his ‘Best Grouch Roles’ ). De Niro is famous for having no patience with fools, whether it’s Donald Trump (of whom the actor, a man of few words, is an unusually loquacious critic), or a well-intentioned but somewhat clueless journalist.
In 2015, De Niro made headlines after storming out of an interview on Radio Times due to “veiled criticism.” According to journalist Emma Brockes, De Niro took issue with the question: “How do you manage not to be on autopilot?” He asked her to turn off the recorder, stood up and began to spin “crazily.”
“You gave me a veiled criticism. You insisted so much that the truth is I no longer feel like continuing with the interview. I’m just not going to do it, honey,” De Niro snapped at Brockes before sticking his head out the door to look for someone to accompany him out of the room. For his part, Brockes later stated that he “empathized” with De Niro, and that he understood that he was “grumpy and exhausted” after a long day of interviews, but criticized his “hostile and condescending” attitude. he.
That same year, De Niro didn’t mince words when addressing the CEO of Flickr and Slack when they both attended the World’s Innovators Awards. Wall Street Journal. Tech mogul Stewart Butterfield referred to the “supermodels and movie stars” who were in the audience when he took the stage to accept the “award.” nerd”.
“We are very far from San Francisco,” he noted, before addressing De Niro directly: “I saw The Godfather II on the plane [ …] when you killed Don Fanucci. I liked”. De Niro was apparently not amused by the seemingly humorous comments. He came on stage after Butterfield and commented, “I don’t know who the last speaker was, but it seemed to me that he was a little condescending to us; actors and celebrities. Let it be recorded that I said it. And I don’t give a damn who you are.” Both his aversion to sharing details of his private life, his lack of delicacy in interviews, and his willingness to draw attention to himself have led to a general image of De Niro as the cranky patriarch of Hollywood. .
The accusations against De Niro are varied and range from the eccentric to the disturbing. The court heard he once asked Robinson to bring him a “specific” martini from luxury sushi parlor Nobu at 11pm. On the other hand, there are allegations of “unwanted gratuitous physical contact,” such as when the actor allegedly asked Robinson to scratch his back. When she asked him to use a back scratcher at her place, she alleged he responded, “I like the way you do it.” De Niro admitted that he may have asked her a couple of times, but “I never disrespected her, nor did I ask her anything out of place.” It was this particular accusation that caused him to shout, “Shame on you!” Apparently, what irritated De Niro the most was being accused of sexual indiscretion.
“Sometimes De Niro would flatly deny something, only to later admit that it might be true but that it had not happened in the way that had been suggested,” writes Larry Neumeister of the Associated Press. An example is when the actor declared: “I never mistreated anyone, ever.” It’s a statement that depends on one’s definition of the word, as De Niro later acknowledged that he could have called Robinson “bitter” to her face. Additionally, he admitted that, once, when she forgot to remind him of an important meeting in California, he had “scolded” her and possibly called her a “brat.”
Faced with accusations that he called his former assistant twice while he was at his grandmother’s funeral (because he wanted her to buy a bus ticket for his teenage son), the actor, quoted by the BBC, responded: “So what ?” Asked about claims that he required Robinson to always be available to do “anything” (including decorate his Christmas tree and mend his clothes), De Niro explained to the court: “I asked him to do anything within reason.” . Within the limits of his work. It’s not that I’m asking you to mop the floor. It’s pure nonsense.” He dismissed claims that he urinated on her while he was on the phone with her: (“How exaggerated that is!”).
De Niro has always been a grumpy old man (the perpetual scowl is certainly part of his character and his appeal), but the current trial reveals a little more of the actor’s true personality and reminds us that a seemingly innocuous qualifier (like grumpy ) may, perhaps, hide something more hostile.
Translation of Anna McDonnell