Robert De Niro Opens Up About His Gay Father in New Documentary

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Robert De Niro opens up about his gay father in a new documentary.

Robert De Niro is telling the world his story in a new HBO documentary about his late father.

Robert De Niro Sr. a struggling artist who was openly gay. In an emotional Out, magazine interview, De Niro opened up about his father’s legacy and the responsibility he feels to tell his father’s story.

“I felt I had to. I felt obligated. It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him. It was not intended to be on HBO. It was just something I wanted to do.”

Robert De Niro originally, intended that he simply wanted to make the film for his own kids, using archival footage from the 1970’s with the help of Martin Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker.

Robert De Niro’s parents divorced when he was only three years old, and his father still lived nearby to him in Greenwich Village and Little Italy, Manhattan. But, despite living close by to each other they did not have a close relationship. “We were not the type of father and son who played baseball together, as you can surmise. But we had a connection,” explains De Niro.

Robert De Niro got emotional while reading excerpts from his father’s personal diaries. One passage reveals De Niro Sr.’s struggle with his sexuality.

When Robert De Niro was asked if his father was conflicted about being gay, De Niro responded “Yeah, he probably was, being from that generation, 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. Again, for my kids, I want them to stop and take a moment and realize that you sometimes have to do things now instead of later, because later may be 20 years from now — and that’s too late.”

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Robert De Niro, who has never played a gay character, says that he was never offered a gay role and it has nothing to do with his personal past. But, there is still a possibility in the future.

“No, they weren’t offered to me. If they had been offered to me by a good director, that’s something I would have considered.”

You can read the full interview hereRemembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr. premieres on HBO June 9.