Robert De Niro appeared to call Apple out in front of an audience at the Gotham Awards in New York City on Monday night, accusing the company of excising political comments from his prepared speech without warning, and going on to attack Donald Trump as a “charlatan” and a liar.
“He’s keeping up the pace in his current campaign of retribution, but with all his lies, he can’t hide his soul,” De Niro said.
The two-time Oscar winner had earlier seemed “to struggle with the teleprompter,” according to Deadline, as he accepted the Gotham Historical Icon and Creator Tribute award for Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon.
He gave part of the speech, but then circled back. “I just want to say one thing,” De Niro said, according to footage posted to X. “The beginning of my speech was edited, cut out. I didn’t know about it. And I want to read it.”
The crowd responded with brief whoops and cheers. Reading off his phone, De Niro continued, “It was: Thank you. History isn’t history anymore. Truth is not truth. Even facts are being replaced by alternative facts and driven by conspiracy theories and ugliness.”
He went on to make mention of the controversial African American history standards approved by the Florida State Board of Education this summer, which include language about how “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
“The entertainment industry isn’t immune to this festering disease,” De Niro said. “The Duke John Wayne famously said of Native Americans, ‘I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.’”
Turning abruptly to the subject of the former president, De Niro said, “Lying has become just another tool in the charlatan’s arsenal.” He accused Trump of having “lied to us more than 30,000 times during his four years in office,” and said his misconduct was continuing apace. “He attacks the weak, destroys the gifts of nature, and shows disrespect, for example, by using ‘笔辞肠补丑辞苍迟补蝉’ as a slur.”
“Filmmakers, on the other hand, strive—” De Niro cut himself off. “This is where I came in and I saw that they had edited all that.” Louder cheers followed. “So I’m going to say these things but—to Apple and thank them and all that. Gotham, blah blah blah, Apple, but—I don’t feel like thanking them at all for what they did. How dare they do that, actually.”
Apple did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.