Robert De Niro became emotional during a interview on "Katie" while discussing bipolar disorder with "Silver Lining Playbook" director David O. Russell on Monday, February 4.
Russell's son has bipolar disorder and has a cameo in the film, which is about a man (played by Bradley Cooper) struggling to deal with his bipolar disorder after being released from a mental health facility.
The director talked about what it was like to direct his son in a scene where De Niro unexpectedly began to cry. Couric then asked De Niro if he felt a greater sense of responsibility doing a film that Russell had so much invested in personally. Video of the interview can be seen below.
"Oh of course, I understand," De Niro said choking back tears. "I don't like to get emotional, but I know exactly what he goes through."
Russell then said, "I mean when I first showed him the screenplay in his home, you know, we all know people who have faced these challenges and we've all been touched by these people and we love these people."
"As he says in the movie, 'I want to do everything I can to help you get back on your feet' and there's nothing harder in life then when you can't figure out what to do," Russell continued. "You try everything and you must never stop. Your heart just has to keep growing."
"But when I first was in his apartment and I was talking to him about the screenplay, this is what happened and I thought he was having hay fever and I realized he was having an emotional reaction," Russell said. "I sat there and I watched Robert De Niro cry for ten minutes and I said, 'Wow, he's really connecting with this material and this would be a beautiful thing if this could work out because I think his heart would be there' and it is there."
De Niro, who is known for playing tough guy roles, does not reveal the reason for his emotional reaction to the script during the Katie interview, however, Russell has made several references to the fact that he and De Niro have dealt with similar issues within their own families.
During a press conference at the Toronto Film Festival in September, Russell spoke about the topic again, however, De Niro was not in attendance.
"This movie in a way is about people who struggle with certain emotional issues that are bigger than the average issues. What interests me is not only how they're like us and how they have to find their way, but also how they're just bigger versions of us," Russell said. "So I've had personal experiences with this. Mr. De Niro, who couldn't join us today, has had personal experiences with this in his family. That as something we wanted to do. So that's definitely a big motivation in the story -- to take off the stigma."
According to a 2010 story by Bloomberg News, De Niro's father, Robert De Niro, Sr., was reportedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The actor's father was an abstract painter who died in 1993.
De Niro's "Silver Linings Playbook" co-star Bradley Cooper was also on the program and the three men spoke at length about the movie. The rest of the interview can be seen here.
De Niro, Cooper and Russell are all nominated for Oscars for their work on the film, which is also nominated for Best Motion Picture. De Niro nabbed his first nomination in 21 years for playing Pat Solitano Sr. Check out the full list of 2013 Oscar nominations. The Oscar ceremony will air live on Sunday, February 24 on ABC, OTRC.com's parent company.
Watch De Niro's emotional interview below.