Robert De Niro smiled, stopped, spoke a little and paused a lot. It was a masterclass in minimalism during his session at the THiNK festival in Goa on Sunday.
Exuding a quite force that mirrored the style he has brought to his 90-plus films across four decades. He was, as moderator Shoma Chaudhury said, the “master of understatement”.
“It’s important that you don’t (overplay),” said De Niro, two-time Oscar winner, speaking of his approach to acting, “The less you do the better.”
Dwelling on his iconic roles like Raging Bull’s Jack LaMotta, Al Capone in The Untouchables and Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, the Godfather star said the these varied lives afforded him the luxury of inhabiting different spaces. “I feel lucky I can get into these lives without having to pay a price,” he said.
The method acting underlining each of these artistic outings is common: drawing on yourself. “You have to use something that you know,” said De Niro.
But sometimes, movie magic is born from sheer improvisation. “It felt totally right for the moment,” he said of his ‘you talkin to me’ moment in Taxi Driver. “One thing about Martin Scorsese is he isn’t afraid to try stuff.” He and Scorsese have done eight films together, with another project on the anvil.
Francis Ford Coppola, David O Russell along with Scorsese featured in his list of favourite directors.
This is De Niro’s visit to India in 35 years.