"For the last 20–30 years, I have celebrated the New Year very simply - nothing special, as people may have expected. Honestly: I get so tired that I usually go to bed without waiting for the midnight."
At the Moscow presentation of his second restaurant “Nobu”, named after the co-owner and chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro appeared in a sport-casual style that was unexpected for such an occasion — a blue T-shirt and jeans. Such a “democratic" appearance was not very suitable for the aristocratic spirit of a luxury restaurant. According to the chef’s words, the principle of the “Nobu” restaurant chain - is high quality of products and service, hence high prices. Legend of Hollywood and “restaurant-star” Robert De Niro immediately agreed to an interview for Nargis. It was very comfortable to talk with him: not in his fiefdom - restaurant, not in manners and tone, there was no hint of a star status…
At the age of 10, little Robert made his debut in the school play “The Amazing Wizard of Oz”. By that moment his parents were already divorced, and each of them had arranged their personal life. His mother could not dedicate to him enough time, but she had the opportunity to pay for his education, so because of her insistence he entered the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York. His teachers of drama, adherents of the Stanislavsky system, were able to lay in him the most precious grain, which in the presence of talent gave riotous shoots, already in the process of his film career. He first appeared on scenes at the age of 20 - in the Brian De Palma comedy “The wedding Party”, but due to the bankruptcy of the company, the film was on the shelf for six years. Small roles in low-key films for a long time did not allow his talent to fully manifest ...
Mr. De Niro, I represent Azerbaijan and, of course, my first question is: are you planning to visit Baku or to open a restaurant “Nobu” there?
I think about it, although I have never been there. I heard a lot about your city: I was told that Baku is a great place. So far I have no exact plan, but I definitely would like to visit your country ... I will say more: when I came back from Qatar, at some point I was told that we were flying over Azerbaijan. So I can say that I have already seen Baku from a bird's-eye view.
New Years is soon. This holiday is associated with childhood memories and a festive mood, for most it is a family holiday. How do you usually celebrate it?
Oh, this is a very difficult question, it is more complicated than you think ... The fact is that for the last 20–30 years I have been celebrating the New Year very simply — nothing special, as many may have expected. Honestly, I get so tired that I usually go to bed without waiting for midnight. Besides, I'm not such a big fan of celebrating the New Year.
Many people think that giving advice is ungrateful. And how do you feel about the advices: Do you love to advice, consult with someone before you make a decision?
I will certainly give an advice if I see that it is necessary for a person, and I will be happy to hear someone else's advice if I need it.
Have you ever had life-giving advice?
Yes. It was a long time ago, but I still remember that day. I can not say whether this is an advice or just a statement, but once when I was a teenager and worked as a salesman in a New York store, an elderly man, about sixty years old, told me: “If only youth knew, and if only old age could…". For some reason, this phrase crashed into my memory for a whole life.
Soon a meeting with a childhood friend Martin Scorsese, then little-known, brought both of them a palm branch of glory: Robert De Niro as Johnny in the Scorsese film “Mean Streets" (1973) won the second prize - the National Council film critics of USA.
But the greatest success was waiting for a young eccentric actor in the person of director Francis Coppola - in “The Godfather-2” (1974) De Niro played the young Vito Corleone and was eventually awarded the Oscar for this striking role, even though for a support role.
This was followed by a firework of star roles. It all coincided: interesting scenarios, great directors and inspired play of the actor. "The Deer Hunter" (1978) received five Oscars, "Raging Bull" (1980) - "Best Male Role" and Golden Globes award…
The whole world was watching your film career ... Well, how did your career as a restaurateur develop?
In fact, I first opened the Tribeca Grill restaurant. It was a long time ago, I really wanted to make such a restaurant where people would go with pleasure. After a year or two, when I was in California, I visited Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s restaurant in Los Angeles, and he told me: "Why don't we open a joint restaurant in New York?" And, you know, his words sunk into my soul ... But we opened the first joint restaurant only four years later.
Why did you have to wait so long? Four whole years!
Yes, imagine! There was no firm certainty that everything would work out, we worked on the details and the design for a long time - the routine took a lot of time. (The very first De Niro’s restaurant in Tribeca, opened in 1990. It is famous for its steaks. The menu has not changed so much for 35 years.)
Do you think people come to Nobu because it’s associated with your name, or because they really like to be here?
Well, probably, the first or even the second time someone can come just because of the curiosity. But, believe me, if it is tasteless or if there is a poor service, they will not come anymore, even they will not become a frequenter. This applies not only to restaurants: people are unlikely to go where they feel bad and uncomfortable …
In the 80–90s, at the height of the film career, De Niro, one after another, followed films that became not only cult, but also pretty sold: the gangster saga “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984), “The Untouchables” and “Angel Heart” (1987), “Midnight Run” (1988), “Bronx Tale” (1993), “Casino” and “Heat” (1995), “Great Expectations” (1998), “Analyze This” (1999) and others. The appearance of handsome De Niro corresponds to the roles of a certain type - either a policeman or a gangster, and this perfectly suits both the directors and the army of his fans. But since the early 2000s De Niro began to try himself in completely different genres - and again the Stanislavsky school did not let him down.
His habit of analyzing and getting used to the image helped him create a number of romantic, dramatic and even comedic characters.
These are roles in the favorite films: “Meet the Parents” (2000), “The Score” and “15 Minutes” (2001), “Meet the Fockers” (2004 and 2010), “Machete” (2010), etc.
The total number of films by Robert De Niro is stubbornly approaching a hundred, and the proposals continue to come. In 2009, Robert De Niro was awarded the "Britannia" award for his personal contribution to the development of cinema, and in January 2011 he received the second Golden Globes for his contribution to the development of cinema throughout his career. At least three premieres of films with his participation are scheduled for 2016.
De Niro has been in the restaurant business for 35 years. He is co-owner of the restaurants “Tribeca Grill”, “Lokanda Verde”, the “Greenwich Hotel” and a number of other enterprises of the hotel and restaurant business. Together with Francis Ford Coppola, he owns the popular Rubicon restaurant in San Francisco, famous for its wine list, which in various years reached 1,700 names and was awarded several times with special prizes. His business acumen did not go unnoticed: at the end of 2014, Robert De Niro was appointed Special Economic Representative of the island state of Antigua and Barbuda, after which an agreement was signed to invest $250 million in the tourism business of this state ...
Recently the movie “The Intern" was released. I would like to know how you worked with Nancy Meyers?
I was comfortable. I must say, she is good, she worked very hard ...
And how the film was adopted in Russia?
Nice to hear. There are films that even with a huge budget fail, but this, apparently, was so successful ...
You are the sex symbol of Hollywood. It is always interesting to know what these men think about women, what qualities they value most?
It is impossible to live with them, but it is also impossible to live without them!
But still? Are you going to write a book about this?
Well ... It depends on what you want from this particular woman. Personally, I like kind and charming women ...
What about beauty? There is an expression: men love with their eyes ...
Well, yes, you are right, beauty, of course, must be presented too ...
Since you have already become a part of the global restaurant business, let me ask - are you cooking for yourself or for loved ones?
Never. But my son is cooking, and it’s not bad.
You are a very busy person. How often do you spend time with children, find time to communicate with family, friends?
Yes, communication with children is a part of my life, I try to spend all my free time with them. This is very important to me.
Interview: SAADAT KADIROVA / Photo: OKSANA GERASENKOVA, YURIY KLIMENKO