The list of people who don’t like President Trump is long, and chief among his haters is unquestionably Hollywood legend Robert De Niro. Although the Oscar-winning actor has long had a reputation for being “not a big talker,” that clearly doesn’t apply to the subject of Trump.
Most recently, De Niro made waves at the Tony Awards on Sunday when he unleashed a profanity-laced tirade against Trump, which drew a standing ovation from the crowd gathered at Radio City Music Hall but criticism from others as an example of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” that will only fuel the president’s base.
While on his way back from a historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump found time to fire back.
“Robert De Niro, a very Low IQ individual, has received to many shots to the head by real boxers in movies,” Trump wrote Tuesday. “I watched him last night and truly believe he may be ‘punch-drunk.’ ”
“Wake up Punchy!” Trump said in a second tweet. He later deleted the tweets and re-posted them with corrected spelling.
But how did the acclaimed actor, known for being “a man of few words,” end up on stage during Broadway’s biggest night screaming “F— Trump”?
His first public criticism of Trump appears to have come in 2011 when the future president joined the “birther” movement, raising questions about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. During an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, the subject of politics came up, and De Niro let loose.
“I won’t mention any of the certain people on the news in the last couple weeks,” said De Niro, a staunch Obama supporter. “But what are we doing? This is crazy. They’re making statements about people that they don’t even back up. Go get the facts before you start saying things about people.”
Although he didn’t name Trump, the actor did confirm that was whom he was talking about.
“It’s like a big hustle. It’s like being a car salesman,” De Niro said. “Don’t go out there and say things unless you can back them up. How dare you? That’s awful to do. To just go out there and speak and say these terrible things?”
Days later, Trump shot back at De Niro during an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” saying the actor is “not the brightest bulb on the planet.”
“I like his acting, but in terms of when I watch him doing interviews and various other things, we’re not dealing with Albert Einstein,” Trump said. “He can say what he wants, but the fact is that this guy has not revealed his birth certificate, a lot of people agree with me.”
Since then, De Niro has become more vocal as Trump has ascended the political ladder.
After Trump announced his presidential candidacy in June 2015, De Niro declared his support for Hillary Clinton in multiple interviews.
“She deserves to be president,” he told Elle. “She’s prepared. She’ll make mistakes. Everybody does. It’s a hard job, to say the least. She’s as qualified or more qualified than anybody else. And paid her dues. Period.”
As the election drew near, De Niro used appearances at award shows and film festivals to take shots at Trump.
In August 2016, during a Q&A at the Sarajevo Film Festival, De Niro said Trump’s rhetoric was “totally crazy, ridiculous stuff,” adding that Trump was “totally nuts,” according to the Associated Press.
A few months later, in a leaked video for the #VoteYourFuture campaign, De Niro delivered what is arguably still his most blistering review of Trump. In less than one minute, he called Trump a slew of insults, including “a punk,” “a dog,” “a pig” and a “bull—- artist.”
“He’s an embarrassment to this country,” De Niro said. “It makes me so angry that this country has gotten to this point.”
He then famously said: “He talks about how he wants to punch people in the face? Well, I’d like to punch him in the face.”
In the days after Trump’s election, De Niro told the Hollywood Reporter, “I felt like I did after 9/11.”
But the rest of his response was measured as he added, “We’ll see what happens, but there will be many, many, many, many, many people watching.”
For a moment, it appeared as though De Niro was willing to give Trump a chance. Toward the end of November, the actor spoke with ITK ahead of receiving his Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama, the Hill reported. When asked whether he had a message for Trump, De Niro responded, “I would only say that we’re all hoping, waiting and hoping, that he will lead the country in a way that’ll benefit everyone and benefit our neighbors around the world.”
The civility was short-lived, however, and by January 2017, De Niro was speaking at an anti-Trump rally in New York. In February, he appeared on “The View” and reasserted that he still wanted to punch Trump in the face.
In fact, last year alone, there were at least seven instances in which De Niro lambasted Trump and his administration while doing interviews, accepting awards and even delivering a commencement speech at Brown University.
Now, De Niro has only amped up his criticism, beginning the year with a scorching — and expletive-laden — speech at the National Board of Review awards in January.
“This f—— idiot is the president. It’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ The guy is a f—— fool,” De Niro said. “Our baby in chief.”