Meryl Streep was a last-minute absentee from the Tribeca Film Festival celebrating 100 years of Universal Pictures—and perhaps she’d have bridged the gap between her frequent costar Robert De Niro and funnyman Judd Apatow. The two men sat next to one another onstage but were each asked questions individually by the moderator, Mike Fleming of Deadline. Mr. Apatow attempted to connect with Mr. De Niro early on by noting that the sketch that got his early Ben Stiller Show greenlit was a parody of Cape Fear.
“Do friends ever send you parodies, or are they nervous to do that?” asked Mr. Apatow.
“Sometimes,” replied Mr. De Niro.
Mr. Fleming asked how John Cazale came to be cast in The Deer Hunter. Mr. De Niro was not sure. Mr. Fleming asked if Mr. De Niro had paid Mr. Cazale’s insurance premiums. Mr. De Niro was not sure.
Mr. Apatow interjected: “I’m just waiting to see how you get from The Deer Hunter to Knocked Up! Boy, do I feel like a jackass today!”
Mr. Apatow was asked how The Deer Hunter had affected his life. “We had it on VHS when I was ten,” he replied. “I watched it, and thus… I became this.” He introduced his father sitting in the crowd. Mr. Fleming went on to ask how Mr. Apatow lost his virginity, a story Mr. Apatow shared happily (the girl remarked “I guess it’ll get better”). Mr. Apatow posed the question to Mr. De Niro, who sat stoically. Mr. De Niro was asked the hardest part of playing the lead in Casino. He wasn’t sure.
Mr. Fleming pulled up questions from remote viewers on an iPad. The first had to do with the manner in which changing methods of viewership are changing cinema. Mr. De Niro remarked: “I just don’t know. I watch movies on my computer now! It helps. I don’t know with this new front, with phones and stuff. Soon there’ll be a supermovie everybody will watch on their phones.” Mr. Apatow had watched Mad Men on an iPad on his flight to New York and was in favor.
Mr. Fleming asked Mr. Apatow whether films in the future would be “better or worse.”
“That’s like a nine-year-old in his room wrote that question!” Mr. Apatow replied. He refused to answer, so Mr. Fleming asked Mr. De Niro about the progress on a potential Raging Bull sequel. He wasn’t sure.
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