Robert De Niro had a very emotional breakdown during an interview with Katie Couric to promote “Silver Linings Playbook.” De Niro sat with co-star Bradley Cooper and the film’s director David O. Russell on Couric’s couch and what ensued made the audience feel like they were spying on a therapy session.
De Niro plays the father of Cooper, whose character suffers from bipolar disorder. Russell’s screenplay was inspired by his own son’s mental health battle.
Couric asks De Niro, “Did you feel a greater responsibility doing a film that David had so much personally invested in?” He responds, “Oh, of course. I understand what he … “
De Niro then stops, with tears in his eyes, and there is more than 15 seconds of silence as he efforts to compose himself. Bradley puts a comforting hand on his shoulder and Katie hands him a tissue. “I don’t like to get emotional,” says a choked up De Niro. “But I know exactly what he goes through.”
After a few more intense moments with all three men on the stage clearly affected, David breaks the tension. “We all know people who face these challenges,” he says. “And we’ve all been touched by these people, and we love these people. There’s nothing harder in life than when you can’t figure out what to do.”
The director goes on to describe De Niro’s breakdown when the two first met to discuss the project. “I sat there and I watched Rovert De Niro cry for ten minutes,” says David. “And I said, ‘Wow, he’s really connecting with this material and this would be a beautiful thing if it could work out. Because I think his heart would be there.’ And it is there.”
Russell says the scene in the film when De Niro breaks down into tears was not in the screenplay. It just happened.