Robert De Niro landed in Dubai in the wake of a media storm that followed a withering attack on Donald Trump.
In a performance that had overtones of both Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, the film star delivered a scathing criticism of the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a video message that went viral over the weekend.
In an interview with The National, the Goodfellas star revealed why he decided to speak out and what he thinks could happen with Donald Trump in the White House.
Describing the presidential hopeful at various points as “a punk” and “a mutt” that he’d like to punch in the face, the Hollywood veteran delivered a menacingly watchable video tirade released over the weekend.
“This is such an awful situation that I felt compelled to say something about it because people have been letting him get away with it for some reason and now they are starting to react,” he said in an interview.
He was attending a conference in Dubai where he was promoting investment in Antigua and Barbuda where he is developing a resort.
Earlier he gave the audience a blunt assessment of the property tycoon turned presidential hopeful as footage from the epic Raging Bull played on a giant screen in the background.
A younger De Niro throwing wild jabs and uppercuts playing Jake La Motta in the 1980 movie regarded by some as his greatest work, provided the perfect backdrop to the question that came next.
“Would you like to punch him in the face?” he was asked in a reference to his Trump tirade.
“I’d love to punch him the face,” he replied to loud applause.
“This guy does not have a clue about what goes on in the rest of the world no matter what he says.”
Later, in an interview he chuckles at the suggestion that his Trump comments were even more compelling to watch than his final monologue in Raging Bull where he reminisces over past lost opportunities.
But the trademark grin that spreads from cheek to cheek quickly disappears when he talks about what a Trump presidency would mean for America.
“It’s disgraceful this guy was allowed to get as far he has,” he says.
“I don’t understand how people could be seduced into thinking this guy has an answer. He has no answer.”
So would he remain a resident of the United States if Donald Trump is elected the next president?
“That’s a good question – I don’t know,” he says. But he predicts mass protests would follow at the very least.
Several celebrities have become involved in campaigning as the US presidential race heats up.
A number of Hollywood stars including Leonardo di Caprio and Julia Roberts have joined the #VoteYourFuture campaign encouraging young people to vote a month before America goes to the polls.
But not all celebrities are critical of the Republican nominee.
John Voight, the Academy Award-winning star of Midnight Cowboy defended Donald Trump on Saturday and described Robert De Niro’s remarks as an “ugly rant”.
Mr De Niro brushed off the jibe:
“I like John, he’s a nice guy – but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
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