At a Tribeca panel, De Niro and Judd Apatow talk “Bridesmaids,” the humor in “Cape Fear” (seriously!) and even reviving Jake LaMotta
Robert De Niro is working on a sequel to the 1988 hit comedy “Midnight Run,” the actor revealed at a panel Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival to honor Universal Studios 100th anniversary.
The follow-up would see him helping out the son of the embezzling accountant played by Charles Grodin in the first film. The script is still in development, De Niro said.
Though the thought of returning to “Midnight Run” after more than two decades might seem like sacrilege to fans of the first film, there’s plenty of other reasons for the Criterion Collection set to be feeling antsy.
De Niro said he is even willing to consider reprising his role as Jake LaMotta in a sequel to “Raging Bull,” provided the “script was good.”
But the talk wasn’t all about milking the legendary actor’s most iconic performances for all they’re worth.
De Niro, who was joined on stage by director Judd Apatow, talked about some of his most famous roles at Universal in films like “The Deer Hunter” and “Casino” while dodging questions on why he’s so very good at playing psychos.
“That’s for me and my psychoanalyst,” De Niro joked about why he was drawn to so many dark characters.
Apatow kept the hour-long panel light, joking that bouncing between examinations of his bawdy comedies with De Niro’s darker performances in some of the seminal movies of the 1970s was “whiplash of subject matter.”
There were some common threads to the two careers, particularly now that De Niro has focused on comedic roles recently in films like “Meet the Parents” and “Analyze This.”
Even though the transition to humorous movies was seen as a creative change of direction, the actor said he did not see it as being as much of a stretch as others did.
“‘Taxi Driver’ — there are funny things in it,” De Niro said. “‘Mean Streets,’ ‘King of Comedy,’ they weren’t obvious comedies.”
“‘Goodfellas’ is hilarious,” Apatow interrupted to laughter from the audience.
It turned out, however, that the “Knocked Up” director wasn’t joking.
“What people love about Mr. De Niro’s work is there’s always sharp comedy in it,” Apatow said. “Even ‘Cape Fear’ has some humor in it.”
Just as De Niro expressed disbelief that anybody questioned that he could do comedy, Apatow was similarly surprised by the shock that greeted his association with the female-centric comedy he produced, “Bridesmaids.” The director, who was famously criticized by his “Knocked Up” star Katherine Heigl for being sexist, says he has always found women funny.
He said he could not understand it when people told him “This is new and I didn’t think it was new. I like ‘Private Benjamin’ as much as the next guy.”
The theme of the panel was Universal Studios, where both De Niro and Apatow have had critical and commercial successes, but also relative failures like “The Good Shepherd” and “Funny People,” respectively.
Both filmmakers said that with emerging platforms on the web and cable there are more ways for people today to discover movies, even those that were commercial disappointments when they were released. They also praised the studio for taking chances.
“A lot of people from Universal are here and they don’t care that they lost millions of dollars on [‘Funny People’],” Apatow joked
“They want me to grow and get better at what I do and part of that is to take risks,” he added.