On Friday night, Stephen Colbert welcomed legendary actor, restaurateur and humanitarian Robert De Niro to The Late Show—or so it seemed. The interview was taped Tuesday and didn’t air until Friday, as the comedian explained to his TV audience, which meant that his guest couldn’t comment on the explosive Mueller Report that dropped Thursday.
The occasion, as it were, was the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival—running April 24-May 5—which De Niro co-founded in the wake of 9/11 to help revitalize the Lower Manhattan area.
Colbert kicked things off by asking about his stint playing Robert Mueller on Saturday Night Live, and questioned why the actor called playing the special prosecutor investigating President Trump and his cronies a “civic duty.”
“I have no other way to say it, I guess. It’s a civic duty. It’s my civic obligation to play Mueller,” De Niro replied. “I’m hoping that it goes further. I don’t know what’ll happen, but I keep saying that, I don’t know whether this is actually possible in reality, where I can handcuff him and take him away in an orange jumpsuit.”
“Why won’t you give the president a chance, Robert De Niro?” Colbert jokingly queried.
“That’s what I said right after he was elected, ‘Give him a chance.’ I give everybody the benefit of the doubt. This guy has proven himself to be a total loser,” offered De Niro, not mincing words.
Later on, the conversation turned to The Irishman, the long-gestating gangster film reuniting Martin Scorsese and De Niro, which will be released later this year on Netflix.
“We have a wannabe gangster in the White House now,” De Niro said. He proceeded to brand Trump a “disappointed dunski” and a “dumbbell,” explaining, “Even gangsters have morals—they have ethics, they have a code, and you know, when you give somebody your word that’s all you have is your word, especially in that world. This guy, he doesn’t even know what that means.”