There were numerous rounds of applause and whoops of appreciation from the audience throughout the Conservation with Robert De Niro on Sunday night at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. But perhaps the biggest cheer for a man often regarded as the finest actor of several generations came when he discussed one of his forthcoming projects, The Irishman.
“Marty [Scorsese] and I are going to do it and Joe Pesci’s going to be in it and Al Pacino,” said the actor, to a crowd erupting in delight at the prospect of the reuniting of such famous filmmaking names. “It’s a good script.”
During an hour-long conversation in Souq Waqif, the new central venue for this year’s festival, De Niro discussed his approach to acting, his wide array of roles across several decades and what he looks for in a good director.
“The most important thing with a director is that they make you feel like you do no wrong,” he said. “That they don’t have preconceived ideas about a scene that they impose upon you, because you eventually start to break down.”
Scorsese, for example, has given him the freedom to give his best in his roles. “He left it up to the actor. Giving the actor the chance to try everything he wants is the most important thing.”
The latest director to join De Niro’s list is David O Russell for the film Silver Linings Playbook, which had its regional premiere at the festival last night. “We have known each other for years but hadn’t yet worked together,” said De Niro, adding that he loved the director’s film The Fighter.
In Silver Linings Playbook, he plays a somewhat colourful, football-obsessed father to Bradley Cooper’s bipolar son, another dad role in an ever-increasing repertoire.
“I want to keep playing fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfather,” De Niro said laughing, cueing up the second biggest cheer of the evening. “I don’t see myself stopping, not at this point.”