It’s been more than 20 years since Robert De Niro lost his father to cancer, and the legendary actor will open up about Robert De Niro, Sr. in a new documentary from HBO.
Debuting June 9, “Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.” De Niro takes viewers into his father’s studio in NYC, where he has kept his late father’s memory alive by preserving everything as it was for the last two decades. When the 70-year-old actor spoke with Out about filming the special, his memories of his father and even read some of his father’s diary entries, he broke down crying.
“I get emotional. I don’t know why,” De Niro says. “We were not the type of father and son who played baseball together, as you can surmise. But we had a connection. I wasn’t with him a lot, because my mother and he were separated and divorced. As I say in the documentary, I looked after him in certain ways.”
When asked whether De Niro feels like he is coming out for his gay father, since it isn’t “common knowledge” that De Niro, Sr. was gay, De Niro replied that he “felt obligated” to do it.
“It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him,” De Niro says. “I think it’s time. 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. 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.”
De Niro believes his father was conflicted and struggled with being gay. “Yeah, he probably was, being from that generation, especially from a small town upstate,” De Niro says. “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 realize that you sometimes have to do things now instead of later, because later may be 20 years from now — and that’s too late.”
Watch a trailer for the documentary below:
“Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.” airs Monday, June 9 on HBO.