Robert De Niro has acted in some of the most influential movies ever made in Hollywood. A renowned method actor and a global icon, the ‘Godfather’ of cinema was present on the third day of THiNK 2013 as he spoke to Shoma Chaudhury about his movies and inspirations in a session titled ‘The Master and His Masks: The Extraordinary Journey of a Creative Brain’.
Talking about his iconic movie ‘Taxi Driver’, De Niro spoke about his character Travis Bickle and how he prepared himself for the script that he loved so much. Being from New York, De Niro revealed that he understood the alienation and discontentment that the character felt with regards to the city. But De Niro failed to point out the actual process of preparation that he underwent for it. “When you do a movie, you have no way of predicting how it would influence others. You have to take the script, your impression on it and run with it yourself. At the end of the day, you have to make it your own.”
His professional relationship with Martin Scorsese led to the production of some of the best movies in the history of cinema. “One thing about Scorsese is that he is not afraid to try out new things,” he said. Having played several ‘extremist’ characters, De Niro said he believed that it is not right to judge a character. “In order to be an artist, you have to be able to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. Only then can you understand their emotions and reasons, even though you do not agree with them.” He considers himself lucky to have had the opportunity to “taste the lives of interesting personalities without having to pay the price for it”.
Admitting the fact that he drew inspiration for his characters from different sources, he also said he is a fervent believer in the ethos of ‘doing less’ as an actor: “It’s very important and at the same time extremely difficult for an actor to pretty much not do anything. People in real lives do not always react dramatically to tragedies. They are more often than not stunned by it.”