Robert De Niro
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.
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.
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
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.
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.