Robert De Niro visits Cambridge Union and tells audience about the actors who impress him today
Hollywood royalty came to Cambridge at the weekend as Robert De Niro stopped by to speak to a packed Cambridge Union.
The union – the oldest debating society in the world – was rammed last Sunday afternoon (February 27), meaning that a number of the students forming a lengthy queue down Bridge Street were going to be left disappointed.
Starting later than billed, Robert De Niro – star of such classic films as Taxi Driver, The Godfather Part II, Raging Bull and Goodfellas – entered the hall to a rapturous reception, accompanied by current union president James Vitali.
James put a number of questions to the star, the first of which was “What the hell are you doing here?” to which he replied: “I wanted to get out of the house”.
One of the other questions James asked was: “When you look at new people in the industry now, are there any actors you’re really excited about and what are the qualities that you think makes them impressive?”
“There are so many wonderful actors around these days,” replied De Niro, “because there’s so much more to do.
“When I was younger, in my 20s, there were what you call independent films – not like today, everything on television it doesn’t matter, it’s just endless. All the opportunities for not only actors but everybody who works in that type of entertainment.
“I mean I just saw Jessica Chastain in something and she was wonderful in it, I saw Cate Blanchett in a couple of things – we all know how great she is... Leo DiCaprio is wonderful in the things he does, and there’s Christian Bale who’s an older generation – between mine and the next generation – and I’m forgetting so many wonderful actors. It’s endless. I couldn’t do what they do.”
James countered: “I’m sure you could,” to much laughter.
James opened up the floor to questions from the audience and there was certainly no shortage of people with their hands raised. On the subject of his famous film quotes, the actor recalled a time when someone said to him “Are you talking to me?”, to which he replied “Well you’re the only one here.” A girl seated near the front then yelled out “Say it!” “I just did!” replied De Niro.
Reflecting on the event afterwards, James told the Cambridge Independent: “Bob’s visit to the union was a once in a lifetime event. We are immensely grateful for how generous he was with his time, and it was evident how loved he was by the membership.”
The 78-year-old Hollywood star was ushered to his car by security staff afterwards as fans gathered. De Niro wound down his car window and talked to them.