Robert De Niro – for so many years a withdrawn presence in interviews who saved all his powers of expression for his screen work – has spoken in strong terms to describe his distaste for Donald Trump, and the people who voted for him, and may yet again.
“The political situation we’re in in my country, it is crazy and absurd – we lost control. I see the phenomenon of Trump, the phenomenon of people not standing up to him, people who ought to know better… They’re causing great concern in the country and a lot of anxiety. I feel like since he’s come on the scene – even after being president – it’s like when an abusive parent rules a household, only it’s not just one household it’s the whole country. We’re like, ‘What’s this guy going to do next? What’s he going to aggravate us about? Is he just doing this to aggravate people? To make people unhappy? Maybe he is.”
De Niro was speaking on the advent of his forthcoming movie Killers of the Flower Moon, his 10th collaboration with director Martin Scorsese, and likened his character William Hale to that of the former US president:
“One of the main tasks of being a leader, the responsibility, is to lead. Even when the masses are turning in a certain the direction, you have to show them the right way. And that comes down to personal integrity, what you know is right and what you know to be wrong, what you stand for.”
He said Trump is “doing whatever he can to be the boss. He just wants to be in charge. He has no moral centre.”
“It upsets me so much that somebody like him could get so far in our political system. Many New Yorkers were on to what a fool he is, a joke. But when the country started buying it? I mean, he didn’t win by much. He didn’t win the popular vote. She won. But look what happened. What’s scary is it’s such a fragile thing, to swing like that. And the odd thing about Trump is that if he had any brains he could have become president again. But he doesn’t care. He did stupid things. He’s not somebody who should ever be allowed close to leadership in this country again.”