The tough talk Robert De Niro has exhibited in film roles over the years gives way to a tender side in a new interview and documentary about the actor's father, Robert De Niro Sr., an accomplished gay artist who died in 1993.
De Niro spoke to Out magazine about the HBO film, "Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.," and offered a rare glimpse into his own personal life in the hopes of telling the story of his dad's work.
Although the magazine points out that De Niro Sr. was not hiding his sexual orientation as a painter in New York in the 1970s and '80s, De Niro did, in a sense, come out for his father in the documentary.
"I felt I had to. I felt obligated," De Niro said. "It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him."
The actor, 70, also addressed his father's confliction about his homosexuality.
"Yeah, he probably was, being from that generation, especially from a small town upstate. I was not aware, much, of it. I wish we had spoken about it much more," De Niro told Out. "My mother didn’t want to talk about things in general, and you’re not interested when you’re a certain age. Again, for my kids, I want them to stop and take a moment and realize that you sometimes have to do things now instead of later, because later may be 20 years from now — and that’s too late."
The documentary shows that De Niro has preserved his father's final home and studio in New York's SoHo neighborhood as if a working painter still lives there. "It was the only way to keep his being, his existence alive," said De Niro, who also reads from his dad's diaries in the film.
"Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr." premieres June 9 at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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