It isn’t often that two legendary actors collaborate. So when Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando both starred in the 2001 thriller movie The Score, people paid attention. However, their collaboration wasn’t exactly traditional, as De Niro revealed in an interview with GQ Magazine.
The Score, directed by Frank Oz, is an American Heist film that infamously had behind-the-scenes conflict between the director and one of his leading stars Brando. A butting of heads ultimately led to De Niro, having to step up from being a typical leading man as he stepped behind the camera once Oz and Brando’s tensions reached new heights.
“He [Brando] didn’t like Frank Oz,” De Niro revealed. “He had a problem with certain people, authority figures, directors. It’s not the first time I heard about it. I remember once Brando came in, and he got upset about something and yelled at Frank. And then he came back with his cane and said, you know, ‘Sorry, everybody.’ But you feel embarrassed. It was like a kid watching your parents have a fight.”
Relations between Oz and Brando reportedly got so bad that the actor refused to be directed by Oz at all. This led to De Niro having to put his director’s cap on and lead his co-star through scenes instead.
While Frank Oz was reportedly in a camper van monitoring everything, the prospect of directing did cause De Niro to feel unsure and “totally unprepared” at the time. The actor had previously directed the drama movie A Bronx Tale back in 1993. However, he had never had to direct someone as legendary as Brando before.
“I don’t know if he [Brando] was aware of that. But every time I did a take I’d walk up there and say, ‘Any notes?’” he said. “But I remember, the next morning, I had a few of my kids with me, I had my dog and [I was] driving to set, and they’re jumping around, and I thought, ‘My God, I haven’t felt this way since I was a young actor having to learn a bunch of lines.’ You’re totally unprepared. You feel like you’re going crazy.”
Despite the experience, De Niro did direct again after The Score, helming the film The Good Shepard, which starred the likes of Matt Damon in 2006. However, acting proves to be his true calling as the star currently has a number of projects in the works – including the action movie Tin Soldier, and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon.