Why Do People Not Like Robert De Niro: Unmasking the Controversial Side of Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro is considered one of the greatest actors of all time, known for his intense method acting and memorable roles in classic films like The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and many more.

However, in recent years, public opinion on De Niro seems to have soured, with some critics and moviegoers voicing dislike or disinterest in his work. There are a few potential reasons why De Niro may have lost some popularity over time.

Reasons Why People Dislike Robert De Niro

Early in his career, De Niro wowed audiences with his gritty, committed portrayals of complex characters like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.

But since then, he has been criticized for playing similar tough-guy gangster roles in multiple films, like Analyze This, Meet the Parents, and The Irishman. Some feel he has been typecast and wish he would show more versatility.

Politics and Public Comments

In recent years, De Niro has been outspoken politically, strongly criticizing Donald Trump and Republicans. While he has every right to his opinions, his frequent political commentary may turn off moviegoers who don’t share his liberal views. Some see his public statements as smug or preachy.

Lack of Interesting Recent Roles

Many of De Niro’s recent movies have been panned by critics and considered mediocre or forgettable. Movies like Dirty Grandpa, The Comedian, and The War with Grandpa have contributed to a perception that De Niro is just cashing paychecks and not choosing roles with artistic merit. Fans yearn to see him in more substantive films.

Perceived Decline in Acting Skills

As De Niro ages, some observers believe his legendary acting abilities have declined. While a matter of opinion, critics have called out wooden or phoned-in performances in some of De Niro’s recent films, a far cry from his total immersion in roles from his younger years. The subtle deterioration of his skills may disappoint fans.

Overexposure and Saturation

In an entertainment industry saturated with content, some simply feel De Niro has been overexposed. With dozens of movies spanning 50 years, he has been a constant big-screen presence. The sheer quantity of his work may have dulled the public’s appreciation and appetite for his talent. Less exposure could make audiences desire his work more.

Has De Niro Lost His Touch? Evaluating His Later Films

While De Niro’s choice of roles and occasional subpar performances explain some of the dislike, it’s worth analyzing a sample of his recent work more closely to see if the criticism has merit:

The Irishman (2019)

  • De Niro reunited with director Martin Scorsese for this sprawling crime drama spanning decades.
  • He gives a strong, nuanced performance as mob hitman Frank Sheeran.
  • The de-aging visual effects received some criticism, but did not impact De Niro’s acting.
  • Verdict: Vintage De Niro performance on par with his earlier mob films.

Joker (2019)

  • De Niro surprised fans with an appearance as a talk show host in the Joaquin Phoenix-led comic book thriller.
  • His role was relatively brief, but he brought gravitas and humor to the part.
  • Verdict: A return to form in a smaller but memorable role.

The War with Grandpa (2020)

  • Family comedy film panned by critics and audiences.
  • De Niro’s performance as the title grandpa was called uninspired.
  • The film was a transparent paycheck role during the pandemic.
  • Verdict: Provides evidence of decline in role quality and effort.

Based on these examples, while some performances support the criticism, De Niro still shows ability to deliver when paired with strong material and direction. The onus may be on him to seek out more substantive roles befitting his legacy.

Unfavorable Comparisons to Other Veterans

Another factor in De Niro’s fading popularity could be that other veteran actors like Meryl Streep, Michael Caine, and Judi Dench are perceived to aged more gracefully while maintaining their esteem and acclaim. Some comparisons:

ActorHighlights of Later PerformancesConsistency of Acclaim
Meryl StreepThe Devil Wears Prada, Doubt, The Post, Big Little LiesRemained critically acclaimed
Michael CaineThe Dark Knight, Inception, KingsmanTransitioned smoothly to character actor fame
Judi DenchSkyfall, Philomena, BelfastReinvented herself, stayed relevant
Robert De NiroSilver Linings Playbook, Joker, The IrishmanDecline in quality of roles, mixed reviews

While this is not a definitive comparison, it may contribute to the feeling that De Niro has lost some steps compared to his veteran peers as he advanced in years.

Can De Niro Regain His Former Glory?

At 79 years old, Robert De Niro is unlikely to recapture the brilliance of his earlier career heights. However, there are steps he could take to potentially regain some favor and critical acclaim:

  • Seek out collaborations with new creative voices and visionary directors to stay relevant, without relying solely on Scorsese.
  • Focus on deep, complex character studies instead of phoned-in roles for a paycheck.
  • Avoid sequels and franchises, which carry a perception of cash grabs.
  • Modulate political commentary to let his artistic work speak for itself.
  • Consider choosing projects with fewer, more impactful scenes versus starring roles that expose oversaturation.

While his legacy is undoubtedly secure, these measures could help shape a late career renaissance for De Niro and allow fans to celebrate his talents once again.


Robert De Niro’s stature as one of the greatest actors in cinema history remains unchanged. However, increasing repetition, political outspokenness, mediocre films, overexposure, and perceived decline in skills have all contributed to tarnishing his public image and popularity in recent decades.

By pursuing more substantive roles, collaborating with new creative voices, and avoiding overexposure, De Niro still has an opportunity for a late career resurgence. While unlikely to scale the massive heights of his earlier brilliance, he may yet create a worthy final chapter and remind fans why he once commanded such admiration. For cinephiles, the potential exists to be wowed by Robert De Niro’s skills on screen once more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has Robert De Niro officially retired from acting?

No, Robert De Niro has not officially retired from acting as of early 2024. At 79 years old he is still actively working and appearing in films, though at a reduced pace compared to his heyday. He has several new projects in development.

What was Robert De Niro’s last acclaimed performance?

Many critics and fans praised De Niro’s performance in 2019’s The Irishman as a return to form. Directed by Martin Scorsese, De Niro portrayed mob hitman Frank Sheeran and delivered a nuanced, emotional performance reminiscent of his mob roles in Goodfellas and Once Upon a Time in America.

What was De Niro’s worst reviewed recent movie?

The poorly received 2016 comedy Dirty Grandpa starring De Niro and Zac Efron earned scathing reviews. Critics derided it as crass, unfunny, and a waste of De Niro’s talents. It exemplified the paycheck roles that have hurt his reputation in recent years.

Has De Niro won any major acting awards in the last 20 years?

De Niro won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in 1980’s Raging Bull. Since then, his only major acting award wins have been an Emmy in 2003 for playing a fictionalized version of himself on NBC’s Will & Grace, along with several lifetime achievement awards.

How many Oscar nominations does De Niro have?

Robert De Niro has been nominated for seven Academy Awards over his career. He has won two Oscars: Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather Part II (1974) and Best Actor for Raging Bull (1980). His most recent nomination came in 1992 for Cape Fear.

Is Robert De Niro’s declining popularity unique among older actors?

De Niro is not alone in facing waning popularity in later years – industry observers note similar trajectories for actors like Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Jack Nicholson. However, contemporaries like Meryl Streep and Michael Caine have aged more gracefully in the public eye by maintaining selectivity and critical acclaim.

What upcoming projects does Robert De Niro have?

De Niro has several films slated for release in 2023-2024 including Killers of the Flower Moon with Leonardo DiCaprio, an untitled David O. Russell project, The Formula with John Boyega, and a possible sequel to Joker titled Joker: Folie à Deux that would reunite him with Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker.

Leave a Comment