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In New Doc, Robert De Niro Discusses his Gay Father

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday May 28, 2014
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Robert De Niro stands next to a painting by his father.
Robert De Niro stands next to a painting by his father.  (Source:AP Photo)

Robert De Niro revealed in an upcoming HBO documentary that his father was gay.

De Niro says that he knew his father, artist Robert De Niro Sr., was gay when he was a young man, after the actor’s parents split when he was just three.

"To me, he was always a great artist," De Niro, 70, told OUT magazine in its June/July issue. "Yeah, he probably was [conflicted about being gay], 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."

He said it’s his duty to talk about his father’s life.

"I felt obligated. It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him," he added. "I was always planning on doing it, but never did. Then Jane Rosenthal, my partner at Tribeca [Enterprises], said, ’We should start doing that now.’ It was not intended to be on HBO. It was just something I wanted to do."

He went on to talk about the personal relationship he had with his father, saying they did not "play baseball together...but we had a connection."

"I wasn’t with him a lot, because my mother and he were separated and divorced... He was absent in some ways. (But) he was very loving. He adored me... as I do my kids," Di Niro said.

De Niro Sr. died in 1993, but the actor continues to preserve his art studio in SoHo, New York.

"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," he said.

The documentary, "Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.," premiers June 9 on HBO and details the life of the actor’s father.

Watch the trailer below:


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