Robert De Niro Says Leg Injury During Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Was ‘Excruciating’

The actor explained why his injury is unlikely to affect his upcoming role as a cattleman on Scorsese's new production, and mused on America after Trump.
Robert De Niro arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Robert De Niro
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Robert De Niro may have suffered a leg injury during the making of Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” but for one, it was thankfully not on set, and for another, the Academy Award winner took it like a good sport.

During a recent sit-down with IndieWire’s Eric Kohn alongside Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal ahead of the festival, De Niro detailed what went down that caused the injury earlier this week.

“I tore my quad somehow,” he said. “It’s just a simple stepping over something and I just went down. The pain was excruciating and now I have to get it fixed. But it happens, especially when you get older, you have to be prepared for unexpected things. But it’s manageable.”

De Niro’s injury happened in Oklahoma, leading him to fly back to New York City on May 13, where he sought medical attention. The two-time Oscar-winning actor was in Oklahoma filming Martin Scorsese’s massive Apple-backed Western “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Deadline reported De Niro was already scheduled to fly to New York on May 13 anyway, as he was “planning to take a few weeks off the production.” For this reason, production on “Flower Moon” is not going to be delayed.

De Niro said the injury isn’t likely to affect his performance as cattleman William Hale. “What I’m doing with Scorsese in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ I’m pretty much a sedentary character in a way. I don’t move around a lot, thank god. So we’ll manage,” he said. “I just have to get the procedure done and keep it straight in a certain position and let it heal.”

De Niro stressed that “Flower Moon,” which AppleTV+ is producing, will not be exclusively a streaming release. “One of the things is that it has to play in theaters,” he said. That’s a very strong component of it. By the time it comes out, hopefully it’ll be back to a close-to-normal situation.”

Meanwhile, with Tribeca planning a huge outdoor festival in a matter of weeks, De Niro addressed the ongoing challenges facing the future of exhibition. “If I can contribute in any way to helping people decide to go into theaters, great,” he said. “I am hoping that as the time goes in the next few months, we’ll get closer and closer to going back to theaters the way we used to, and it’ll get back to a form of normal. If I can help in any way to induce people to go, make an announcement or go into a crowded theater — that has its restrictions — of course I will. Movie theaters are essential.”

The always-outspoken critic of Donald Trump also weighed in on life in the United States out of the Trump regime, and his outlook is ultimately hopeful about where the country is headed in Biden’s hands. “I think that good will prevail,” he said. “I never thought that I’d see in my lifetime something this nutty. We have to get to a situation where we are the country that we are supposed to be. Nobody realized how bad it could get — even me. The country will right itself. I’m confident of that. I don’t understand certain things. The bottom line is, the country will find itself going in the right direction with someone like Biden trying to do the right thing. We have to get there. It’s essential. The other way never works. We see what happens in other countries, where it goes. It just goes nowhere. Chaos. Craziness. That’s not what we’re about.”

Scorsese kicked off production on “Killers of the Flower Moon” last month. The movie is currently filming in Bartlesville, Pawhuska, and Osage County, Oklahoma. Along with De Niro, the ensemble cast also includes Leonardo DiCaprio as Hale’s nephew Ernest Burkhart, Lily Gladstone as Ernest’s wife Mollie Burkhart, and Jesse Plemons as Tom White, an FBI agent tasked with investigating a string of murders among the Osage Nation. The movie, with a script by “Forrest Gump” Oscar winner Eric Roth, is based on David Grann’s nonfiction book of the same name.

Eric Kohn contributed reporting.

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