DOver a 60-year film career, Robert De Niro played mobsters and hitmen, fraudsters and con artists.

Now in the twilight of his career, De Niro tends to oscillate between the intellectual dramas of Martin Scorsese and slapstick comedies.

But it’s his mafia roles that are the two-time Oscar winner’s most iconic – and that tough guy persona, revealed by a new trial, is also present in his personal and professional life.

A jury ruled Thursday that De Niro was not liable in the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by his former assistant Graham Chase Robinson, but found his company Canal Productions liable and awarded him $1.2 million in damages. damages and interests. The juicy two-week trial opened a window into the movie legend’s complicated romantic relationships and old-school values.

Robert De Niro’s company will pay his ex-assistant $1.2 million

Testimony from his employees and private text messages played in court revealed that De Niro valued loyalty above all else, made threats with a menacing undertone and made clear that anyone who upset him would be severely punished.

The 80-year-old global superstar surrounds himself with a small coterie of trusted lawyers, accountants and assistants, many of whom have been at his side for decades. They know him and just call him “Bob.”

Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed 1976 film “Taxi Driver”


Ms. Robinson claimed that during 11 years working for De Niro, he subjected her to humiliating tasks, unbecoming of her role as vice president of production and finance, earning $300,000 a year.

She said she was afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.

Here are five ways the trial revealed how De Niro’s on-screen personas mirror his complicated off-screen life.

“How dare you disrespect me?

After launching her $12 million lawsuit in 2019, Ms. Robinson’s lawyers released a 2012 voicemail from De Niro as evidence of the “hostile, abusive and intimidating manner” in which he spoke to her.

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In a performance worthy of his Oscar-winning role in The Godfather 2De Niro can be heard calling his former assistant a “spoiled brat,” saying, “how dare you disrespect me?” ” and shout, “You’re a fucking story.”

The actor was in Los Angeles at the time and threatened to fire Ms Robinson while she was living in Spain.

“How dare you. You’re completely fired, you’re screwing up history,” De Niro says in the leaked recording.

“How dare you, with all the good things you do, it’s post-Christmas bullshit.”

“How the fuck dare you disrespect me like that.” Do you want to take another position? Do you want another position? So get changed and go somewhere.

“Don’t get mad at me because I’m screwed because I didn’t get a simple thing that I need more than right now here in California when I’m here for less than 24 hours.

“You have to be kidding me, you spoiled brat, fuck you!” So stop whenever you want, damn it, how the fuck can you… for not answering, you’re upset because you live in Spain, you fucking spoiled brat.

De Niro’s explosive testimony

The actor made headlines with a stunning performance on the witness stand at the start of the trial.

In his thick New York accent, De Niro admitted to berating Ms. Robinson and acknowledged that he called her “petulant,” “snippy” and a “fucking spoiled brat” during his interrogation. lawyer Andrew Macurdy.

The actor claimed he never raised his voice at her or was violent, his anger slowly growing as the lawyer continued to press him on his behavior towards Ms Robinson.

His claims that he never yelled were somewhat undermined when he shouted across the courtroom shortly afterward: “Shame on you Chase Robinson!” »

Robert De Niro arrives in court to testify on October 31


Realizing he had become angry, De Niro apologized to the court.

Mr Macurdy then questioned the actor over claims he urinated while speaking on the phone to Ms Robinson.

“That’s absurd,” De Niro responded angrily. “Did you gather us all here for this?” »

De Niro denied seeking publicity by pursuing Ms Robinson, telling the court: “It draws attention to me. It’s the last thing I wanted to do.

“Who the hell does she think she is?” »

Ms. Robinson’s heated confrontations with De Niro’s girlfriend, Tiffany Chen, were a recurring theme of the trial.

Ms. Chen testified that she was suspicious of the former assistant’s “imagined intimacy” with her boyfriend, and described her as “crazy” and a “psychotic single white woman”, a reference to the psychological thriller by 1992.

Ms. Robinson ultimately left De Niro’s company, Canal Productions, in April 2019.

In a July 2019 text exchange presented in court, De Niro wrote to Ms. Chen: “Can you believe Chase? Who the hell does she think she is?

“She thought she was your girlfriend.” I saw it from the beginning,” Ms. Chen responded in the text.

“The balls. The nerve. The audacity. The sense of entitlement. How dare she,” De Niro continued.

De Niro and his girlfriend Tiffany Chen


This same attitude seems to have rubbed off on Ms. Chen.

In January 2019, she became convinced that Ms Robinson had deliberately “sabotaged” their four-hour flight to New York after their Antigua holiday by private jet after telling flight attendants not to provide any refreshments.

“If you keep her, you and I will end up in trouble,” she texted De Niro in March.

Loyalty above all

Several of De Niro’s longtime confidants took the stand during the trial and provided fascinating insights into the workings of his inner sanctum.

There was his personal trainer of 40 years, Dan Harvey, whom De Niro sought out after struggling to lose the 35 pounds he gained for his Oscar-winning performance as boxer Jake LaMotta in Furious bull.

Mr Harvey told the court how he would subject the actor to near-daily exercise and weight routines which would last up to seven hours. He became a sounding board for De Niro to practice his cinematic dialogues and accompanied the actor on location all over the world.

“I enjoy working for him because he is a very disciplined man who works hard at his profession and I respect him a lot,” Mr Harvey told the court.

De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta starred in Martin Scorsese’s classic mafia drama “GoodFellas”


De Niro could be a demanding taskmaster, and early in their working relationship he often lost his temper, Mr. Harvey said. His salary eventually rose to $375,000 per year.

During a difficult time for the actor in 2008, Mr Harvey said he was asked to take a 50 per cent pay cut.

He said he told De Niro that the pay cut “just doesn’t make sense to me” because he had mortgages, car payments and a child going to private school.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,'” Mr. Harvey testified.

Dan Harvey’s brother, Tom Harvey, has been De Niro’s personal attorney for 30 years and also testified at the trial.

Tom Harvey, who is also general counsel at Canal Productions, was responsible for handling Ms. Robinson’s departure from the company.

A complicated love life

De Niro’s complicated romantic relationships have not been spared from scrutiny. The public timeline of his divorce from Grace Hightower and blossoming romance with Ms Chen appears to have been cut a few years short of what was previously known in evidence produced in court.

Ms. Chen testified that the couple met on the set of the 2015 comedy. Traineestarted dating in 2017 and moved into a new townhouse together in 2018.

Trainee The filmmakers had sought a martial arts expert for the film and contacted Ms. Chen’s father, William, a well-respected tai chi instructor.

Ms Chen, a former Golden Gloves champion and martial arts expert, appeared in the film, and the couple began dating in 2017 while he was still married to his ex-wife Grace Hightower, the court heard of his trial. testimony.

Grace Hightower and De Niro

(Getty for IWC)

“You formed a relationship with Mr. De Niro while he was still married, correct?” » Ms. Robinson’s lawyer, Vince McKnight, asked her.

“On paper, yes,” she replied.

Ms Chen told the court they initially hid the relationship from De Niro’s family and office workers.

They moved into a townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and welcomed a baby girl — the actor’s seventh child — earlier this year.

“We have 15 dogs and one human daughter,” Ms. Chen said.

De Niro publicly split from Ms Hightower in November 2018, triggering bitter divorce proceedings.

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