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October 12, 2019

De Niro talks Trump and acting technique at London Film Fest


Sat, Oct 12, 2019

LONDON: Legendary Hollywood actor Robert De Niro renewed his criticism of Donald Trump on Friday, telling a London audience the US president was trying to "destroy" American institutions "to save himself".

In a wide-ranging question-and-answer event at the London Film Festival, De Niro said Trump was attempting to "upend" Americans´ views of typically non-partisan entities like the CIA and FBI.

"We have to defend these institutions -- plus the fourth estate, the press -- because he´s trying to destroy them and for only one reason: to save himself," the New York-born actor told film enthusiasts in the British capital.

"Everything´s been turned upside down because of Trump, because he´s such a dirty player," he added, as the discussion touched on his 2006 movie "The Good Shepherd" about the rise of the CIA from the ashes of World War II.

"He won´t get away with it forever but he´s getting away with saying these things about every institution."

Trump is mired in an intensifying impeachment investigation -- only the fourth president to face such a probe -- after a CIA whistleblower in the White House revealed an alleged abuse of power.

De Niro has been a frequent critic of Trump, using an expletive to condemn the American president at the televised Tony Awards in June 2018, and receiving a standing ovation.

- 'It´s pretty disgusting' -

Speaking in London ahead of his new Martin Scorcese-directed movie "The Irishman" closing the city´s 12-day film festival, De Niro assailed Republicans for supporting the under-fire US leader.

"It´s pretty disgusting we´ve got Republicans there who are just so afraid to do anything, so afraid to stand up," he said, to applause from those attending.

De Niro, whose award-winning career began on Broadway before he discovered cinema at age 20, faced questions from several budding actors looking for tips on his legendary performances.

The double Oscar-winner -- for "The Godfather Part II" in 1974 and "Raging Bull" in 1980 -- revealed he had occasionally used the so-called "animal exercise" in which actors channel an animal to play a character.

"I thought of Travis as a crab," he said of his iconic portrayal of Travis Bickle -- a mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran driving a yellow cab in New York -- in the 1976 film "Taxi Driver".

"I haven´t done that much recently, but it´s something to do (to) make yourself think about this character.

"It can give you behavioural things."

Asked about how he stays in character with a camera inches from his face, De Niro said he channels the energy of the moment.

"When the camera is closer to you and it´s the moment, somehow the energy will change even more and you do it the best you can do it," he advised following a question from an aspiring student.

"You try and be as honest as you can at that moment."