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Robert De Niro Tells NYU Grad Students “You’re F–ed” in Commencement Speech

Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro gave a hilarious and very blunt commencement speech to New York University grad students on Friday, May 22 AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

The 2015 graduating class of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts need all the luck they can get. In a hilarious and very blunt commencement speech on Friday, May 22, Oscar winner Robert De Niro told the crowd that, well, they are basically "f–ed" when it comes to the future.

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"You discovered a talent, developed an ambition and recognized your passion. When you feel that, you can't fight it — you just go with it," the 71-year-old said at the Madison Square Garden ceremony. "When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense. You aren't just following dreams, you're reaching for your destiny. You're an artist — yeah, you're f—d. The good news is that's not a bad place to start."

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The Hands of Stone actor went on to explain that a lot of rejection is up ahead, but quitting isn't an option. "You have to keep working, it's that simple," he said. "Rejection might sting, but my feeling is that often, it has very little to do with you. When you're auditioning or pitching, the director or producer or investor may have someone different in mind, that's just how it is."

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He joked: "That happened recently when I was auditioning for the role of Martin Luther King in Selma! Which was too bad because I could've played the hell out of that part — I felt it was written for me! But the director had something different in mind, and she was right. It seems the director is always right."

All kidding aside, De Niro tried to put the aspiring actors at ease. Despite believing they will never "get straight A's again," he encouraged all to keep in touch with their peers. "Treasure the associations and friendships and working relationships with the people in your classes and your easily work. You never know what might come from it." He mused: "I'm here to hand out my pictures and resumes to the directing and producing graduates!"

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