The problem with method acting is not staying in character but maintaining your own. The challenge is to channel a personality—to assume multiple personalities over the course of a career—without developing multiple personality disorder. Avoiding that scenario by not losing yourself in a scene, so you will not become a permanent part of the scenery, is hard for even the most talented actors.
How else to explain Robert De Niro’s self-victimization and commission of identity theft in which he continues to play the role of “Man Screaming at TV in Bar”? How else to describe his descent from liberal to lunatic, given his release of more F-bombs than all the ordnance to have been dropped by a squadron of B-52s during a bombing run against North Vietnam?
My diagnosis is more colloquial than clinical, as I am not—and have never played, neither on film nor TV—a doctor. But I do not need to wear a white coat to know when there is a need for men in white coats to take someone away; to use soul force in lieu of physical force, because De Niro brings all the subtlety of a madman to a part that eschews sound argumentation for the sound of his own voice.
He has a right to free speech, so do not mistake my request to have him exit stage left as a call to stampede toward him or the exits.
He does not, however, have a right to be taken seriously. Not when his impatience with democracy becomes a cry to destroy it. Not when he has no time for Democrats to pursue democratic means for an undemocratic end: to remove Donald Trump from office, since De Niro and his ilk believe the defeat of Hillary Clinton was itself a high crime and misdemeanor.
We need not delete De Niro’s obscenities. Not when the clarity of his position compels TV stations to censor his words.
Cruder than the man he condemns, and more condemnatory than the president he deems to be too crude to be commander in chief, Robert De Niro is an actor without a script.