Robert De Niro Shares How He Would Have Handled Robert Mueller's Testimony

Robert De Niro -Getty-H 2019
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"I don’t want to criticize Director Mueller as an actor, so let’s just say my approach to the part would have been different," the actor wrote in an essay for The Washington Post about how the former special counsel handled himself during the hearings last week.

The man behind Saturday Night Live's portrayal of Robert Mueller, Robert De Niro, shared his thoughts about the former special counsel's Congressional testimony last week in an essay he penned for The Washington Post, which was published Monday.

The actor wrote that he would have taken a different approach in testifying before Congress than Mueller's limited remarks that relied heavily on his more than 400-page report. "I don’t want to criticize [former FBI] Director Mueller as an actor, so let’s just say my approach to the part would have been different," De Niro wrote. "Mueller chose to play himself as a calm, confident, dignified public servant. His 'backstory': a patriot serving his country from the battlefields of Vietnam to the battlefields of Washington, D.C."

Continued De Niro: "I, more of a method actor, would have channeled my inner rage at the years of Donald Trump’s illegal and immoral acts, and I would have been more in touch with my fury after two years of Trump and his stooges accusing me of running a witch hunt. I would have dropped the unruffled exterior and been more, let’s say, expansive in my response. I may have dropped an f-bomb or two or eight. The emphasis would have shifted more to me — which is what audiences expect from their movie stars — while Mueller preferred to stay in the background, putting country and integrity first, and letting action and facts speak for him. These are old-fashioned values, not cool enough for today’s distracted audience. Even more important, the Academy doesn’t give Oscars for 'calm, confident and dignified.'"

De Niro also said that his and Mueller's "acting choices" were so subtly different that "the casual viewer would hardly notice." For example, while Mueller referred to Trump as "president," the Oscar-winning actor wrote that he would have called him a "malignant narcissist."

"It seems that everyone — the Democrats, Trump and the Republicans, the country — got what they wanted from the hearings, and yet no one was satisfied," he wrote. De Niro added that Mueller's report already contained the information Democrats were hoping to learn in the testimony, which was "detailed documentary proof of Russia’s aggressive interference in our democratic process, evidence of Trump’s criminal obstruction of justice and a diabolical catalogue of his campaign’s encouragement of Russian aid in electing him."

"The Democrats’ hope was to get a strong confirmation in Mueller’s own voice. They got that, too, albeit in undramatic, monosyllabic responses," the actor continued. "If it turns out the Democrats want more — and I want them to want more — then Mueller’s report and testimony gave them all they need for impeachment: high crimes, misdemeanors and, though not required, a flock of felonies."

De Niro added that the Republicans also already had the information they wanted prior to the hearings. "They’d successfully nullified the conclusions of the Mueller report, first by circulating Attorney General William P. Barr’s mendacious summary of it and then by echoing Trump’s fantasy that the report found 'no obstruction, no collusion,'" he wrote. "All the Republicans asked for was that Mueller wouldn’t add anything — and, heartbreakingly, Mueller cooperated."

The actor was also bothered by Republicans "personally attacking" Mueller.

"I found myself hoping that those Republicans actually believed what they were saying, not acting the part; that they are genuine freakish ideologues, sincere accomplices, true racists and enthusiastic enablers rather than grasping opportunists cynically carrying Trump’s fetid water because they’ve been bought off with the threat of losing their jobs and power," De Niro wrote.

The actor said that it was "difficult to assess what the country got from the hearings." He wrote, "As long as these Republicans hold power, all the country will get out of the hearings is the right to say, 'I told you so.'"

De Niro also called for Trump's impeachment in the essay. "We deserve better. House of Representatives, take action. Mueller handed you the evidence; the Constitution gives you the authority; the people gave you the power. History demands you use it," he wrote.

The essay concluded with De Niro indicating that he was ready to move on from playing Mueller on SNL. "And what about me? Well, as Robert Mueller vanishes from public scrutiny, my opportunities to play him will fade, as well. It’s okay. I’m ready to move on," he wrote before he suggested a new character he could play. "I think I could do a really good Jerry Nadler, my own great congressman and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The last time I gained and lost weight to play a scrappy New York street fighter (for Raging Bull), I won an Oscar."