Pop Culture

Celebrities who are poor public speakers

Robert De Niro

Mario Anzuoni / X90045
Cast member Robert De Niro gestures as he answers a reporter's question at the premiere of "What Just Happened?" during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in this January 19, 2008 file photo. The Sundance Film Festival entered its second week on January 21, 2008 amid a cooling market for buying films, while documentaries stole the spotlight and Hollywood insiders defended the indie spirit of star-filled movies like "What Just Happened?" REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES)

You talkin’ to me? Well, yeah, because you surely aren’t talkin’ to us. Not clearly, anyway. De Niro, like other ’70s icon Al Pacino (see below), really has no idea how to express himself without a script. Watching him being interviewed is like standing in front of a Jake LaMotta punch … incredibly painful. He’s been smart not to publicize too many of his more recent movies, many of which have been duds, in that would-be audiences would only be turned away by his lack of coherence. As the co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, and owner of several hotels and restaurants, De Niro would be smart to understand that speaking in full sentences can do wonders.

Al Pacino

Chris Haston / NBC
Al Pacino accepts the award for best actor in a mini-series or television movie for his work on "Angels in America," at the 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/NBC, Chris Haston)

I once attended the American Cinematheque honors, where Pacino was the evening’s star attraction. For two hours — and the two months before that when it first announced he’d be the honoree — Pacino was feted with kind words from his co-stars and collaborators. So with all that time to prepare, what does he say when he finally reaches the podium? Nothing, nada, not a coherent word. “I don’t know what to say,” was pretty much all he could muster. Hey, Al, maybe pay someone to write you a speech next time. It would be a wise investment.

David Archuleta

Mark Mainz / FXXTV Fox
David Archuleta performs during the season finale of American Idol on Wednesday May 21, 2008, in Los Angeles. (Mark Mainz/AP Images for Fox)

Granted, Archuleta is only 17 years old, so he gets some slack. But, if you’re going to try out and contend to be the next American Idol, where every person in the world will know who you are, learn how to engage in conversation. Whenever Ryan Seacrest would chat him up between songs, Archuleta had trouble coming up with the right words, and then post-“Idol,” when he was doing tons of press on his experience, all he could offer was how “fantastic” all of his “Idol” colleagues were. If he wants to become a serious musician, he’ll need to work on selling himself.

Joel and Ethan Coen

Mark J. Terrill / AP
**CORRECTS LEFT AS ETHAN COHEN ** Writers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, left, accept the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for their work on "No Country for Old Men" at the 80th Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

What, you don’t remember the Oscar-winning directors speech after taking home the prize for “No Country for Old Men.” That’s because they never gave one. The Coens are notoriously press shy and, between the two of them, can never seem to muster the right words in describing their films. Ever notice how scarce the dialogue was in “No Country”? That wasn’t by accident. Visually, these guys are Rembrandts, but verbally they’re more like Marcel Marceau.

James Gandolfini

Barry Wecter / HBO
** FILE ** This undated file photo, released by HBO, shows actor James Gandolfini in his role as Tony Soprano, head of the New Jersey crime family portrayed in HBO's "The Sopranos." Nearly a year after the smash series' finale left fans guessing what it all meant, dozens of scholars gathered at Fordham University in New York, Friday, May 23, 2008 to parse what "The Sopranos" had to say about topics ranging from gender roles to the justice system, race relations to health care. (AP Photo/HBO, Barry Wetcher) **NO SALES**

Tony Soprano was much more about action than words, and Gandolfini is the same way. During HBO’s press conferences during the heyday of “The Sopranos,” Gandolfini would always let someone else do the talking. A kind and gentle man who often had a difficult time being equated with a killer, Gandolfini found it tough come up with the right words to describe the way he would portray Tony. Always polite but never effusive, Gandolfini might want to find more congenial ways to engage with fans and colleagues who only want to offer praise.

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