De Niro talks Trump and acting technique at London Film Fest

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De Niro talks Trump and acting technique at London Film Fest
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro on stage during The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences official Academy screening of "The Irishman" at the MoMA, Titus Theater 2 on October 6, 2019 in New York City. Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences /AFP.

LONDON (AFP).- Legendary Hollywood actor Robert De Niro renewed his criticism of Donald Trump on Friday, telling a London audience the US president was trying to "destroy" American institutions "to save himself".

In a wide-ranging question-and-answer event at the London Film Festival, De Niro said Trump was attempting to "upend" Americans' views of typically non-partisan entities like the CIA and FBI.

"We have to defend these institutions -- plus the fourth estate, the press -- because he's trying to destroy them and for only one reason: to save himself," the New York-born actor told film enthusiasts in the British capital.

"Everything's been turned upside down because of Trump, because he's such a dirty player," he added, as the discussion touched on his 2006 movie "The Good Shepherd" about the rise of the CIA from the ashes of World War II.

"He won't get away with it forever but he's getting away with saying these things about every institution."

Trump is mired in an intensifying impeachment investigation -- only the fourth president to face such a probe -- after a CIA whistleblower in the White House revealed an alleged abuse of power.

De Niro has been a frequent critic of Trump, using an expletive to condemn the American president at the televised Tony Awards in June 2018, and receiving a standing ovation.

'It's pretty disgusting'
Speaking in London ahead of his new Martin Scorcese-directed movie "The Irishman" closing the city's 12-day film festival, De Niro assailed Republicans for supporting the under-fire US leader.

"It's pretty disgusting we've got Republicans there who are just so afraid to do anything, so afraid to stand up," he said, to applause from those attending.

De Niro, whose award-winning career began on Broadway before he discovered cinema at age 20, faced questions from several budding actors looking for tips on his legendary performances.

The double Oscar-winner -- for "The Godfather Part II" in 1974 and "Raging Bull" in 1980 -- revealed he had occasionally used the so-called "animal exercise" in which actors channel an animal to play a character.

"I thought of Travis as a crab," he said of his iconic portrayal of Travis Bickle -- a mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran driving a yellow cab in New York -- in the 1976 film "Taxi Driver".

"I haven't done that much recently, but it's something to do (to) make yourself think about this character.

"It can give you behavioural things."

Asked about how he stays in character with a camera inches from his face, De Niro said he channels the energy of the moment.

"When the camera is closer to you and it's the moment, somehow the energy will change even more and you do it the best you can do it," he advised following a question from an aspiring student.

"You try and be as honest as you can at that moment."

© Agence France-Presse

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