Actor Robert De Niro took a jab at former President Donald Trump during a press conference this weekend.
The “Killers of the Flower Moon” star was at a Cannes Film Festival presser for the Martin Scorsese film when he compared the “evil” character he plays in the movie to Trump.
“I don’t understand a lot about him,” he said about his character William Hale.
“But people do things. He has to be charming, he has to win people over,” De Niro explained. “Part of him is sincere.”
Robert De Niro rips Donald Trump while discussing "the banality of evil" in "Killers of the Flower Moon": "We see it today and you know who I’m talking about but I’m not going to say his name. That guy is stupid." https://t.co/YeZrO6zkFm #Cannes pic.twitter.com/AbEFa515ot
— Variety (@Variety) May 21, 2023
“The other part, where he’s betraying [the Osage people], there’s a feeling of entitlement.”
“Killers of the Flower Moon,” recounts a period of time in the 1920’s called the “Osage Reign of Terror.”
Massive oil deposits were located in Osage nation’s territory in Oklahoma, and Native Americans were murdered for their oil “headrights” by White Americans.
The real-life counterpart of De Niro’s Hale orchestrated the murder of his nephew’s wife Mollie’s family members one-by-one, until she and her husband were the only heirs to her family’s headrights.
Hale attempted to poison Mollie so his nephew and co-conspirator, Ernest, could inherit her portion, but she lived, divorced her husband, and moved away.
He was eventually convicted to sentenced to life in prison for only one of the many murders, but was paroled in 1947.
De Niro contrasted Hale’s sense of entitlement to the Osage nation’s oil rights to systemic racism.
“I guess you could say we became a lot more aware of it after George Floyd, with systemic racism,” he remarked.
“And so that’s what it is. And lo and behold, what happened there that we never knew of while we were there was the Black Wall Street massacre while we were shooting.”
The Black Wall Street massacre occurred over a two day period in May of 1921 and is considered one of the most horrific racial crimes in American history.
Mobs of White Tulsa residents torched 35 blocks of the wealthiest Black communities in the nation at the time, leaving more than 800 injured and an unknown number dead. Part of Tulsa is in Oklahoma’s Osage County.
“So it’s the banality of evil. It’s the thing that we have to watch out for,” De Niro continued.
“And we see it today, of course, with, we all know who I’m going to talk about, but I won’t say the name.”
“Because that guy is stupid,” he said about Trump. “Imagine if you’re smart. Even Hale was smart in many ways. And so, it’s something that is systemic, and that’s the scary part about it.”
He also took aim at Trump supporters for their unwavering faith in the 45th president during the Q&A.
Co-star Lily Gladstone, who plays Mollie, pointed out that some Osage tribe members were in denial about Hale’s involvement with the brutal murders because he portrayed himself as a supporter of their community.
De Niro compared the Hale sympathizers with Trump voters and ended up saying the former president’s name, even though he vowed not to a few minutes earlier.
“I mean, look with Trump. We see what that is,” the actor concluded. “And there are people who think that he could do a good job. Imagine that. How insane that is.”
This wasn’t the first time De Niro took aim at Trump supporters. He blasted the more than 71 million who voted to reelect him in November 2020.
“It’s the same playbook as Mussolini, as Hitler, as wannabe dictators. It’s what they’re going to do for the people, make Germany great again, make Italy great again, make America great again,” he commented during an interview on MSNBC’s “The Beat.”
“It’s all appealing to the worst prejudices, the worst weaknesses of the public and instead of leading them and guiding them and being someone that they can look up to,” De Niro said.
“And when the public is not right, you have to be [there] to do the right thing and set an example for them. And if you don’t, then we’re going to be where we are today.”
De Niro said he felt “sad” that half of America would support Trump after his time in the Oval Office.
“I was so angry and so enraged and confounded that he would actually behave the way he did and that people bought it,” he concluded.
“They’ve accepted him and would have voted for him and have voted for him. I don’t know why. That’s all that it was from the very beginning. Just how could this guy behave this way? That’s all.”