Robert De Niro uses festival speech to urge people to vote: 'You are the bosses'

Maya Oppenheim
De Niro is an outspoken critic of US president Donald Trump: Getty Images
De Niro is an outspoken critic of US president Donald Trump: Getty Images

Film star Robert De Niro told the electorate to remember they were “the bosses” as he urged people to vote during an appearance at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City.

“Look at all of you,” the Taxi Driver star told the audience. “You are at this amazing concert because you took your responsibility as global citizens seriously. You took the time to join with other citizens to make a difference. Now we’re asking you to take your responsibility as US citizens seriously by voting.

“Voting is how we tell our government what we want and what we don’t want,” he added. “Put it another way, voting is how we hire and how we fire our leaders.”

The 75-year-old added: “Guess what? They are not our bosses. We are their bosses. If we think they are doing a good job we can keep in their jobs. If there is someone we like better we can hire them. And if we don’t like the job they’re doing we can fire them. You have got the power now please use it”.

De Niro, who won two Oscars for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II and Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, did not refer to any leaders by name in the speech.

But the actor has been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, using his speech at June's Tony Awards to lash out at the president.

"I’m gonna say one thing: f*** Trump," he told the audience at New York's Radio City Music Hall, before he introduced Bruce Springsteen.

Raising both fists in the air as he received a raucous standing ovation from the audience, he added: "It’s no longer 'down with Trump.' It’s 'f*** Trump."

Mr Trump then responded by attacking the actor in a Twitter tirade, calling him "a very low IQ individual" and suggesting he had "received too many shots to the head by real boxers in movies."

He added: "I watched him last night and truly believe he may be 'punch-drunk'. I guess he doesn’t realise the economy is the best it’s ever been with employment being at an all time high, and many companies pouring back into our country. Wake up Punchy!"

Mr Trump did not refer to a specific film, although De Niro has appeared in various violent roles, including boxing biopic Raging Bull about the life of former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta.

De Niro followed up his speech on a visit to Toronto where he apologised for the president rather than to him.

"I just want to make a note of apology for the idiotic behaviour of my president," he said. "It's a disgrace. And I apologise to [Canadian Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau and the other people at the G7. It's disgusting."