awards season

Robert De Niro Claims His Gotham Awards Speech Was ‘Edited Out’

Photo: 2023 Gotham Awards

During the tribute to Martin Scorsese’s film Killers of the Flower Moon at the 2023 Gotham Awards, star Robert De Niro claims that part of his speech was censored, as he could not find a portion of it in the teleprompter. As he was reading the introduction, he took several pauses and leaned into the podium before continuing on with what was there. As the camera returned to De Niro from a clip montage of the film, he addressed the awkward pauses he had made earlier and explained what happened. In the original version of his speech, De Niro planned to take aim at former president Donald Trump. “The beginning of my speech was edited, cut out. I didn’t know about it,” he stated before he pulled out his phone and began reading the censored section of his speech. According to a Variety report, the speech was changed at the request of Apple, the film’s producer. Apparently, it wanted De Niro’s remarks to focus solely on the movie, a source said.

The edited speech was given to the teleprompter company less than ten minutes before the start of the show. Sources said that the company received an email from Apple with a new version at 6:54 p.m. that changed mentions of Trump to reference how “watching the news today” reveals how “we actually are living in a post-truth society,” per Variety, which reviewed a copy of the email. De Niro’s team did not edit the script, a spokesperson for the actor confirmed. Neither did the Gotham Awards, insiders noted. A source close to the film said there was no censorship involved in the decision-making, adding that the entire mishap was a miscommunication and the team was unaware De Niro did not sign off on the final version.

“History isn’t history anymore,” the actor said, reading the original speech off his phone at the awards show. “Truth is not truth; even facts are being replaced by alternative facts and driven by conspiracy theories and ugliness. In Florida, young students are taught that slaves developed skills which could be applied for their personal benefit. The entertainment industry isn’t immune to this festering disease. ‘The Duke’ John Wayne famously said of Native Americans, ‘I don’t feel we’ve 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.’ Lying has become just another tool in the charlatan’s arsenal. The former president lied to us more than 30,000 times during his four years in office and he’s keeping up the pace in his current campaign of retribution. But with all of his lies he can’t hide his soul. He attacks the weak, he destroys the gifts of nature, and shows disrespect; for example, by using Pocahontas as a slur.”

He then points out that this was where he noticed his speech was edited. The audience applauded in support of De Niro. “This is where I came in and saw they edited all that … I don’t feel like thanking [Apple or Gotham Awards] at all for what they did. How dare they do that, actually.”

Vulture has reached out to Gotham Awards for comment.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Robert De Niro Claims His Gotham Awards Speech Was ‘Edited’