Robert De Niro Delivers Fiery Onstage Rebuke of Awards Show After Speech Edited


Robert De Niro melted down onstage at the Gotham Awards on Sunday night, where he was appearing as part of a tribute to his new film Killers of the Flower Moon. Martin Scorsese’s true-crime epic was being honored with Gotham’s Historical Icon and Creator Tribute.

De Niro was to kick the segment off with some brief remarks before welcoming the film’s cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio and a large number of indigenous actors, to the stage. But almost immediately, the Taxi Driver star veered off the script. Announcing to the audience that “the beginning of my speech was cut out” without his knowing, De Niro launched into a fiery rebuke of “alternative facts,” the film industry, and even Apple Studios, who financed Flower Moon.

“I just want to say one thing,” De Niro said after praising Scorsese for placing an emphasis on facts over entertainment. “The beginning of my speech was edited, cut out, and I didn’t know about it. And I want to read it,” he said to applause.

“History isn’t history anymore. Truth is not truth,” he began. “Even facts are being replaced by alternative facts and driven by conspiracy theories and ugliness.” He criticized the way young American students are taught about slavery, and castigated movie star John Wayne for remarks he made defending the decision to steal land from indigenous populations.

“The entertainment industry isn’t immune to this festering disease,” he cautioned. “John Wayne famously said of Native Americans, ‘I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.’”

In referring to Wayne’s ribald 1971 Playboy interview, De Niro was drawing parallels between the attitudes that contributed to the true story depicted in Killers of the Flower Moon. The film stars De Niro as a mafioso-type who convinces his eager but simple nephew (DiCaprio) to marry into the family of an indigenous woman (Lily Gladstone) in order to murder her relatives and inherit their land.

After accusing former president Donald Trump of lying “more than 30,000 times during his four years in office, De Niro rattled off rebukes to both Apple and the Gotham Awards for condensing his speech.

“So, I’m gonna say these things to Apple and thank them and all that. Gotham, blah blah blah, Apple,” De Niro shrugged, to laughs from the audience. “I don’t feel like thanking them at all for what they did! How dare they do that, actually,” he concluded, before introducing the film’s cast.

De Niro’s onstage tantrum may have been surprising, but it’s hardly unprecedented.  Just last month, the actor lashed out during his blazing testimony in a discrimination suit filed by his ex-assistant, Graham Chase Robinson. At one point the actor earned admonishment from the judge when he screamed, “This is all nonsense!”

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