A combination of three factors which Robert De Niro is acting in awful movies these days – an increase in apathy, decrease in opportunity and financial desire superseding all artistic considerations.
To state the obvious, Robert De Niro is not an awful actor. He has seen it all, done it all, won it all. His place and legacy in the pantheon of great American actors is firmly secured.
At this point in his career, De Niro has Cate Blanchett – he can do what he wants. One must remember that he is 77 years old.
Does he have the same fire burning inside him as he did between the 1970s and 1990s? Is he willing to go through mental and physical anguish to wholly inhabit a role to the best of his ability?
Maybe not. Maybe with time and age, some of that fire has been doused. Maybe he just wants to have fun making a movie
Even if the fire still rages, there are far fewer opportunities for De Niro to channel it. Age is certainly a factor – there aren’t plum leading roles written every year for an actor his age.
Scorsese had to resort to de-ageing technology to tell the story he wanted to tell in The Irishman. And when given that opportunity, De Niro showed that he’s still “got it.” But of course he does, you can’t just lose what he has.
That being said, the fact remains that De Niro isn’t likely to be flush with compelling scripts, at least not to the extent he used to be in his pomp.
As other responses have pointed out, De Niro has been facing some financial challenges. And that could be the reason he accepts to do movies that would once be considered “beneath” him.
Between 2010 to 2013, De Niro starred in 13 movies and most of them weren’t exactly terrific. Perhaps he wanted to maximize his earnings at that point.
While De Niro’s recent filmography is checkered, he’s still Robert De Niro. As far as I’m concerned, he can do what he wants. To me, he’s one of the best to ever do it. He has earned the right to do what he wants.
And I believe the fire is still burning. He’s still producing compelling performances – The Irishman being the prime example. And there’s also Silver Linings Playbook, The Intern and Joy.
He has Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon and David O’ Russell’s as yet untitled project lined up next.
Rest assured that Robert De Niro hasn’t become an awful actor. And he’s going to give us at least a couple more bravura performances. I would take five Dirty Grandpas for one Irishman.