Robert De Niro Backs Off Tough-Guy Trump Talk

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Actor Robert De Niro appeared to strike a more measured tone while discussing President-elect Donald Trump at the White House Tuesday during the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony.

When asked by ITK if there was a message he would like to share with the President-elect, the two-time Oscar-winner — who previously said he’d like to “punch [Trump] in the face” — said he was taking a wait-and-see approach.

“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. That’s all,” De Niro told ITK Tuesday, according to the Hill. “We’re waiting and hoping, and we’ll see.”

De Niro added that the video in which he said he said he wanted to punch Trump — released last month as an outtake from a voter registration PSA — was “more symbolic” than literal, and that “anybody would want to punch him in the face” after the things he said on the campaign trail.

“Now he’s president-elect and I just want to see what he’s going to do,” De Niro said, according to the Hill.

The actor’s comments are a stark departure from the combative stance he had taken toward Trump during the campaign. He had previously called candidate Trump a “dog,” a “pig,” a “bullsh*t artist,” a “mutt who doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” “totally nuts” and “an embarrassment to this country.”

Shortly after Trump’s victory earlier this month, De Niro told the Hollywood Reporter that he felt as he did after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The Godfather star was one of 21 celebrities and public figures at the White House Tuesday to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. The president lauded the actor’s “iconic” film roles before awarding him his medal.


Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum


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