Goodfellas. Taxi Driver. And … Dirty Grandpa?
The running joke over the past few years is that — outside of Nicolas Cage — Robert De Niro is no longer a great actor, but rather a formerly great actor trading on his iconic status for quick paycheck after quick paycheck. (Raise your hand if you saw Grudge Match, Killing Season or The Bag Man. If you said yes, go take a five-minute timeout and think about what you’ve done.)
And now we know exactly when and how this happened, thanks to a timeline from illustrator James Chapman charting the actor’s decline based on critic scores culled from Rotten Tomatoes.
The downfall seems to occured in 2002, when De Niro turned 59 and started pumping out fluff like Analyze That.
But there are other theories. During an interview on The Bret Easton Ellis Podcast, actress Illeana Douglas (who’s worked with De Niro on three films, including Goodfellas), offered some insights: “I think that, and I can only comment as an outsider and having worked with him on a film like Goodfellas, the environment that was created to play and to make a work of art, that no longer exists.”
So, it’s more the movie business failing him than vice versa. (Remember this, Johnny Depp).
The actress did go on to defend her frequent co-star, however: “I'm not sure if that’s true concerning his performances in Silver Linings Playbook for example, and even in something as benign as The Intern he brings a strange kind of authorial presence to a very lightweight movie.”
One thing’s for sure: don’t blame it on drugs, as former baseball Lenny Dykstra insinuated recently (through a rep, De Niro responded to the one-time Mets star with one word: “Bullshit.”)
Nice to see he’s got a little raging left.