Robert De Niro knows a few things about second acts. The two-time Oscar winner began his career in dramas like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, then pivoted to broad comedies like Analyze This and Meet the Parents. These days, his projects often straddle the two genres (like Silver Linings Playbook, which garnered the actor his first Academy Award nomination in two decades). That seems to be the case with his new film The Comedians, directed by Taylor Hackford (Ray). De Niro plays Jackie Burke, a washed-up former sitcom star seeking to relaunch his own career in comedy. When he physically assaults an audience member for recording a performance, Jackie is forced to do community service — and it’s there that he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), a woman who is looking for a new start of her own. (The relationship between the characters played by De Niro, 73, and Mann, who is almost 30 years his junior, appears to be a platonic friendship, although there’s some ambiguity in the trailer.) Watch the clip above.
Longtime De Niro fans will be reminded of Martin Scorsese’s 1983 satire The King of Comedy, another film in which the actor played a stand-up comic with a dark side. The Comedian co-stars Danny DeVito, Patti LuPone, and Edie Falco, and features a number of comedians playing themselves — including Hannibal Buress, Gilbert Gottfried, Brett Butler, Jimmie Walker, and De Niro’s old Analyze This co-star Billy Crystal. The film opens for a one-week, awards-qualifying run on Dec. 2 and premieres in select theaters on Jan. 13.