Meeting Robert De Niro

As a journalist, I've met my fair share of famous people. Actors, politicians, royalty, sportspeople, musicians... Some of them have been my idols, some I thought it was cool to say I met, and some I couldn't care less about so I was just doing my job. But through it all, I've been professional (except maybe when I interviewed Anthony Warlow and I acted like a Justin Bieber fan. But I really, really admire him).

So, when I heard Robert De Niro was coming to Perth my heart skipped a beat, or rather it felt like it was going to leap out of my chest, but I thought I would be fine. I could definitely maintain my level of professionalism and there was no way I'd be nervous, let alone star struck. He's just an actor, right? Wrong.

De Niro is as close to a living legend as you can get in Hollywood. He's the Godfather. He's the Taxi Driver. My meeting with him was brief, I didn't get my photograph taken with him and I wasn't even allowed to be closer than a metre near him, and yet the memory will stay with me forever.

I met De Niro at a press conference. Before it began, journalists assembled and rather than yapping away like we usually do while we wait for the talent to arrive, we were mostly silent. Everyone was excited and perhaps a little intimidated. We were told we could ask De Niro just one question each. We had to make it count. We were also told to avoid questions about his films because he was in town to promote Nobu Perth, the restaurant he co-owns. But I had so many questions for the icon. Where to begin?

I couldn't pass up an opportunity to ask about his films, so my question, which I asked very nervously, was this: "It's fair to say you're one of the greatest actors of all time, but you're also obviously passionate about restaurants. When people talk about Robert De Niro 50 years from now, what do you want them to talk about? What do you want your legacy to be?" De Niro smiled at me. Yes, he actually smiled warmly, not that De Niro smirk he gives in films before he whacks you or to journalists on the red carpet before he grunts and storms off. Could it be he actually liked my question?

De Niro is known for being terse with the media but he was unusually jovial in Perth. He replied to my question: "We'll see, whatever sticks. Who knows?" Then he elaborated further, speaking for another minute about how enjoyable, but also difficult, it is to make films and develop restaurants. He gave the impression he'd be happy to be remembered for either passion, but hopefully both, and I think he will.

I met De Niro on Sunday and on Tuesday I'm still grinning about it. I've stood two metres away from the Queen, but sitting one metre away from De Niro was far better. No offence, Liz ;)

Robert De Niro with chef Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa at the press conference. Photograph by Angie Raphael.

Here are some of De Niro's best films:

The Godfather: Part II (he won as Oscar for this performance)
Raging Bull (he also won an Oscar for this film)
Taxi Driver
Cape Fear
This Boy's Life
Once Upon A Time In America
City By The Sea
Meet The Parents
Wag The Dog

Have you had a similar encounter with one of your idols? What happened?


  1. Angie, that is very cool & I loved the way you wrote it. Coming up with one question was very tough but yours was perfect.
    I've met a lot if famous music people when I was younger. Growing up in Brisbane, they used to all come along to clubs I used to frequent. The funniest encounter was with the drummer of Iron Maiden who we met at a bar in Brisbane. We didn't know he was from the band. She started telling him how awful the racket was this band called Iron Maiden was making at Festival Hall. He took it very well. We organized the next night to take them out to a disco to show them real music. But they brought along Pat Cash who had just won Jnr Wimbledon & he looked scruffy & was wearing tennis shoes & we couldn't get in anywhere. I kept saying we need to ditch the scruff tennis player. The Iron Maiden boys were quite hurt nobody would let them in. So we went back to the hotel room & had a cup of coffee & looked at photo albums they'd brought of their loved ones. They were lovely boys. My friend ended up going out with the drummer a few times & he asked her to run away with him but she had a good job. Lol.

    1. That's a great story, Susan. Pat "Scruffy" Cash. Haha.

  2. Sorry this was poorly written. Hard to write on an iPhone. It wouldn't let me edit. Just to be clear it was my girlfriend who was trying to turn Iron Maiden into a disco band. I was the one trying to lose a surly 18yr old Pat Cash.


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