Robert De Niro opens up about his gay father

03:59, May 29 2014
Robert De Niro,
FATHER & SON: Robert De Niro, left, and his father, photographed by Angelo Novi.

Behind Robert De Niro's tough, on-screen exterior lies a tender side.

In a interview, the 70-year-old actor has opened up about his late, openly gay father for the June/July issue of Out magazine.

He shed tears as he spoke about the intimate portrait he has created of his father, in a new documentary, called Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr. 

When asked about how he feels about sharing the same name with his father, De Niro took off his glasses and began to cry.

"I get emotional. I don't know why. It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him," De Niro told Out magazine.

"His art could last longer than my films. Although the digital stuff, it'll always be there. Great art should last forever," he said.


Reading from his father's diaries, the documentary reveals the conflict De Niro Sr. felt about his sexuality, saying he felt like "being gay was a sort of affliction," the magazine reports.

The magazine asked De Niro if he thought his father was conflicted by his life's passion.

"Yeah, he probably was, being from that generation, especially from a small town upstate," replied the Oscar winner.

"I was not aware, much, of it. I wish we had spoken about it much more. 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 realise that you sometimes have to do things now instead of later, because later may be 20 years from now - and that's too late."

De Niro said he has always intended to make a documentary of his father's life and work. Preserving the artist's SoHo studio after he passed away, Out describes the loft as "a shrine to an artist that few regonise."

But preserving the studio was "the only way to keep his [DeNiro Sr.] being, his existence alive," said De Niro.

Despite the lengths De Niro has taken to honour his father, the Taxi Driver star admits he didn't have a typical relationship with his father.

"We were not the type of father and son who played baseball together, as you can surmise. But we had a connection," he said.

"But my father wasn't a bad father, or absent. He was absent in some ways. He was very loving. He adored me ... as I do my kids."

Despite not spending much time with his dad, the magazine reports the actor made a final attempt to "rescue" his De Niro Sr., who was sick and living in Paris.

"It's clear that De Niro regrets that he wasn't able to help him more before he died," the magazine reports.

In regards to the personal nature of the documentary, De Niro said it was time to share it with the world.

 "I thought about it, of course, but if you're going to do something, you have to do it all the way. You can't hide anything," said the actor.

"That's the whole point - the truth. That's what people are attracted to. I should have done this 10 years earlier, but I'm glad I did it now."