Robert De Niro was in the news last fall after a suspicious package containing a pipe bomb was sent to his Tribeca production office in New York City on October 25. The incident made national headlines, but one thing not known until now was that the explosive device arrived on the same day De Niro was set to begin filming his supporting role in the Warner Bros. tentpole “Joker.” The film’s director Todd Phillips revealed the detail to Empire magazine and said that the pipe bomb did not stop De Niro from fulfilling his commitment to the comic book movie.
“We had FBI guys showing up to search the set,” Phillips said. “And I thought, ‘Oh god, what’s he gonna be like?’ And he comes in like it’s nothing, just ready to rock, knew his shit. He’s amazing.”
Phillips has been vocal about using De Niro’s Martin Scorsese films “The King of Comedy” and Taxi Driver” as major sources of inspiration for “Joker.” De Niro previously teased to IndieWire that “Joker” shares a connection with “The King of Comedy,” although he said he’s not necessarily playing the character of Rupert Pupkin over again. “Joker” stars Joaquin Phoenix as the famous Batman villain, imagined in this story as an aspiring stand-up comedian named Arthur Fleck who takes the wrong turn into madness. De Niro stars as esteemed talk show host Murray Franklin, who comes face to face with Arthur in one of the movie’s most pivotal sequences.
The package sent to De Niro in October 2018 did not result in any injuries. The actor issued a statement the day following the bomb’s confiscation that read, “I thank God no one’s been hurt, and I thank the brave and resourceful security and law enforcement people for protecting us. There’s something more powerful than bombs, and that’s your vote. People MUST vote!”
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The statement was a hit at Donald Trump, encouraging fans to vote the president out of office in the upcoming election. Prior to De Niro, pipe bombs were sent to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the CNN offices on October 24. All of the recipients are outspoken opponents of Trump.
Warner Bros. is releasing “Joker” in theaters nationwide October 4.