Speaking to us at the London press conference for De Niro’s forthcoming feature The Family, directed by Luc Besson – the actor told us of his plans for the eagerly anticipated reuniting of two of Hollywood’s most renowned figures. “I have another gangster film I’m gonna do with Scorsese and it’s a very interesting one.” he said. “We’re preparing it. We have a script and Marty has another film he’s doing before so it won’t be for a while.” He even admitted they were contemplating taking their working relationship from the screen to the page. “Once Scorsese and I were thinking about doing a book together, and we might still I don’t know, but it’s as far as it went.”
Also in attendance at this star-studded event are De Niro’s co-stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Dianna Agron, who play his character Giovanni Manzoni’s wife and daughter, respectively, and the latter spoke of her delight at working alongside such celebrated performers – in a cast that also consisted of Tommy Lee Jones. “It’s mind-boggling and it was about a month and a half before I found out I had the movie for sure and over that course of time everybody had confirmed they were participating in this film. But just the fact we had that experience and now we’re sitting here a year later… You never get over it. It’s very cool.”
She also admitted to having learnt a lot from her colleagues, as she looks towards a long and triumphant career, “Both Bob (De Niro) and Michelle have made such wonderful choices with the characters they’ve played and in such interesting movies, and obviously I’ve seen almost all of their work, so my learning experience came from watching them create a new character in front of me,” she continued, “I think that if I’m to try and honour what I’ve seen them do, it’s to make smart choices and ones you really believe in, because that’s when you’re having the most fun. If you try and force it you’re probably only going to like half of your work.”
Though highly complimentary of her co-workers and idols, Agron admits that she has heard some other horror stories to have come out of Hollywood, though wisely (sadly) she didn’t name any names… “The main thing is that everybody wants to do a good job and to make it believable and that involves speaking to each other, not just in the scene, that would be quite awkward. Although I have heard of incidences where people were asked not to talk to people or look them in the eye or not wear purple.”
Pfeiffer also described how much fun she had with her role – playing the erratic, dangerous, yet ultimately protective, Maggie. “I focused on family and personalising it more, which it ultimately Maggie’s role in it, to protect her family at any cost,” she continued, “I can’t imagine myself blowing up supermarkets, but it’s fun to play those kind of parts. It’s fun to kick ass and show that dark side to yourself, to explore areas that are taboo that you can’t in real life.”
Conversely, such a role is one all too familiar to De Niro, as he plays a retired mob boss in witness protection, and he tells us of his decision behind taking on this particular role. “If it’s written well and it’s fun to do and the characters are interesting, especially if I’m doing it with people like Luc or Scorsese, I guess people are fascinated by them because they’re against the establishment in some ways and in some ways they’re not.” Talking of gangsters, one of the more memorable scenes from the film comes when De Niro’s Manzoni has to describe Goodfellas at a film club, and it’s a film the actor has recently revisited himself.
“I looked at the movie and I looked at the DVD and there were things that I hadn’t been aware of, so I went through the whole film carefully and then I went to the other stuff on the DVD and it was helpful for me,” he said. While Pfeiffer added, “We revisited Goodfellas and it was hilarious – it really holds up, such an amazing film.”
Back to The Family – the film takes place in Normandy in the North of France, and it seemed to be a setting and culture very much taken advantage of by the young Agron. “I went to a live stock fair with Tommy Lee Jones which was one of the most comical things to have ever happened to me in my life,” she said. “They don’t know who Tommy Lee Jones is in Normandy, so he was having the time of his life – he’s a cowboy! He was in his element and you feel that Normandy is very untouched and you feel like you’re in the 80s, people were looking at us when filming like we’re aliens, but in LA people are like, film crew – great – means there’s going to be traffic.”
Such a sentiment was echoed by De Niro, who said, “When you’re on location you take advantage of it because you never know when you’re gonna be back there, if ever.” While Pfeiffer, on the other hand, was more concerned at Agron’s blissful youth. “It’s so scary that stepping back in time for Dianna is the 80s.”
The Family is out on November 22nd, and you can read our review here.