He's played some hard characters in his time, but Hollywood legend Robert De Niro showed his softer side when he opened up to Out magazine about his late father, Robert De Niro Sr., who was gay.
The Taxi Driver actor, 70, shook and sobbed as he talked about his artist father, welcoming the magazine into his dad's studio in New York City, which he has kept as a shrine for over 20 years.
De Niro Sr., who lost his battle with cancer at 71 in May 1993, was a figurative painter, creating work in the style of Matisse. Although not well known in life, his world famous Oscar winning son is now on a mission to raise public awareness of his father's work.
He tells his father's story in a new HBO documentary—Remembering the Artist—which premieres on Monday, June 9. De Niro was keen to talk about all aspects of his father's life.
"He probably was [conflicted] about his homosexuality, being from that generation," the actor admitted. "Especially from a small town upstate. 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."
Despite not living together, the pair had a close bond. "We were not the type of father and son who played baseball together, as you can surmise," De Niro continued. "But we had a connection. I wasn’t with him a lot, because my mother and he were separated and divorced. I looked after him in certain ways."
One of the realizations that makes De Niro especially emotional is that he inherited his father's name, but became much more successful than his dad.
"I get emotional," he admitted, adding that discussing his father's sexuality wasn't something he's struggleld with.
"No, no. 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."