Belfast Telegraph

Friday 30 January 2015

De Niro steals graduation show

Robert De Niro was a hit with students in Maine
Robert De Niro was a hit with students in Maine

Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro proved a hit with graduates in a 15-minute address as he received an honorary doctorate.

During the event at Bates College in Maine, the Hollywood star drew laughter from the 463 graduating seniors and more than 5,000 onlookers at the private, liberal arts college's campus in Lewiston.

De Niro, 69, who left high school to pursue an acting career, was one of three high-profile guests who received honorary degrees at the Bates commencement.

PBS Newshour senior correspondent Gwen Ifill and Princeton University molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler were also honoured, but it was De Niro who stole the show as he received his doctorate of fine arts degree.

"In many ways, leaving school when I did it was an advantage. I saved nearly 6,000 dollars by not having to pay tuition and expenses for four years of education," he said.

"I feel a little foolish because if I had waited until now not to go to college, I could have saved around a quarter of a million."

Looking back, he said, "it worked out just fine. I saved the money, and I got the degree".

De Niro also offered the graduates some serious advice.

"If you're an actor, always be true to your character," he said. "If you're not an actor, have character and always be true to yourself."

De Niro won a best actor Academy Award for Raging Bull and best supporting actor Oscar for The Godfather, Part II. He earned four more Oscar nominations.

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