Robert De Niro & Donald Trump's Nastiest Public Jabs At Each Other

As celebrities started taking sides for or against Donald Trump in 2024, there was never any doubt about where Robert De Niro would stand. Back in 2019, the actor explained to The New York Times why he would never portray Trump on-screen. "There's nothing redeemable about him, and I never say that about any character," he said, later adding, "He's a petulant little punk."

For Trump, De Niro's words had to sting just a little — in a 2012 Movieline interview, "The Apprentice" host outed himself as a De Niro fan by listing "Goodfellas" and "The Godfather Part II" among his favorite films. Trump's years-long feud with the two-time Oscar winner had already begun the previous year, but perhaps it hadn't yet grown contentious enough to spoil the flicks for him.

The war of words between thespian and reality star started when De Niro dared to challenge Trump's endorsement of the conspiracy that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. "Don't go out there and say things unless you can back them up. How dare you? That's awful to do," said "The Untouchables" actor in an interview with Brian Williams (via Fox News). The worst insult he flung at Trump was likening the convicted felon to "a car salesman," but Trump wasn't a happy camper. On Fox News, he said of De Niro, "[He's] not the brightest bulb on the planet." Little did Trump know what wrath he had unleashed by making an enemy of the "Cape Fear" star.

Robert De Niro wanted to go all Jake LaMotta on Donald Trump

Ahead of the 2016 election, Robert De Niro tried to help get the vote out by participating in a #VoteYourFuture video campaign. But his remarks about Donald Trump were so savage that they were cut from an ad and later released as a stand-alone clip, according to CNN. Part of what he said could have been sung to the tune of The Pogues' dark and gritty Christmas song, "Fairytale of New York." De Niro says of Trump, "He's so blatantly stupid. He's a punk, he's a dog, he's a pig, he's a con, he's a bulls**t artist, a mutt who doesn't know what he's talking about." (It doesn't quite rhyme, but it almost works.)

De Niro also said that he'd love to sock Trump right in the kisser. In a 2024 appearance on "The View," the "Raging Bull" star explained this was because he had seen footage of Trump saying that he wanted to deliver a facial blow to a protester. Bloomberg shared a clip of the 2016 incident in which Trump did exactly this. He also suggested that the protester should have been "carried out on a stretcher."

De Niro agreed with Joy Behar when she called Trump "vicious," but the former president might have viewed this as a compliment; he used the same word to describe his notoriously tall son Barron Trump during his 2007 Walk of Fame speech. (Barron was a tiny toddler at the time).

Donald Trump tore into his nemesis after the Tonys

Donald Trump seems to have an obsession with awards shows, so he tuned in to watch the Tony Awards in 2018. Robert De Niro was there to introduce Bruce Springsteen, but the "Casino" star couldn't resist taking a shot at Trump, who probably wants everyone to forget about his foray into the casino biz. (Onlookers actually celebrated when the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was demolished in 2021.) "I'm gonna say one thing: 'F**k Trump,'" De Niro said to a crowd of the stage's crème de la crème. His short message was effective — it was met with loud cheers from the audience, some of whom even left their seats. "It's no longer, 'Down with Trump,' it's 'F**k Trump,'" he continued after raising both fists in the air like a boxer who just KO'ed an opponent.

It became clear that De Niro's message had reached its target when Trump reached for his phone and tweeted, "Robert De Niro, a very Low IQ individual, has received too many shots to the head by real boxers in movies. I watched him last night and truly believe he may be 'punch-drunk.'" In a follow-up tweet, he tried out a nickname for De Niro that didn't pack much of a punch, writing, "Wake up Punchy!" De Niro jabbed back the following January, telling The Guardian, "He's a con artist. He's a huckster. He's a scam artist."

The Gotham Awards speech that got under Donald Trump's skin

At the 2023 Gotham Awards, Robert De Niro was reading his speech from a teleprompter when he realized something crucial was missing: The part where he eviscerated Donald Trump. Luckily, it was saved on his phone. "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," De Niro said. "But with all his lies, he can't hide his soul." The "Killers of the Flower Moon" star also criticized Trump for referring to Senator Elizabeth Warren with the racist nickname Pocahontas.

Trump has let much of De Niro's criticism go unanswered over the years, but something about this particular speech irked him enough that he felt it merited a response. In a Truth Social tirade, he opened by criticizing De Niro for using a teleprompter, which — really? (See photo above.) "He has become unwatchable both in movies, and with the FOOLS that destroyed the Academy Awards, bringing them from one of the top shows in the Country to a Low Rated afterthought," Trump wrote (via The Independent). It's unclear why he mentioned the Oscars, but maybe he got confused about which awards show he was watching. "He has become a total loser, as the World watches, waits, and laughs!" he wrote in closing. A month later, De Niro told Rolling Stone, "Trump brings out the worst in people. He's a monster."

Unsavory characters Robert De Niro has compared Donald Trump to

Over the years, Robert De Niro has expressed his distaste for Donald Trump by likening the MAGA boss to many different people and things that most Americans would view unfavorably. Of Trump setting up shop in the Oval Office, the "Wag the Dog" star told the Daily Beast, "He's a piece of s**t who never should have been there in the first place."

While comparing Trump to some of history's worst authoritarian leaders, De Niro also managed to take a dig at his arch-rival's distinctive appearance and his intelligence. "They all look funny. Hitler looked funny, Mussolini looked funny and other dictators and despots look funny," he told The Guardian in 2019. "What bothers me is that there will be people in the future who see him as an example but they'll be a lot smarter." That was quite the loaded burn.

Ahead of the 2016 election, De Niro was giving a speech at the Hollywood Film Awards when he fittingly used a movie reference to warn the nation about how dangerous a Trump presidency would be. "I don't see a lot of difference between Kubrick's totally insane General Jack D. Ripper and our totally insane Donald J. Trump," he said. In Stanley Kubrick's 1974 dark comedy "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," Ripper (Sterling Hayden) is a paranoid conspiracy theorist whose actions result in nuclear armageddon.

Robert De Niro invaded Donald Trump's turf

During his hush-money trial, Donald Trump took advantage of the media's presence outside the Manhattan courtroom where he would eventually be found guilty of 34 felonies. It allowed him to make his case before the American people with no pushback from pesky attorneys or judges. But then, Robert De Niro invaded Trump's new territory to offer Americans a counter-argument. "We'd forgotten the lessons of history that showed us other clowns who weren't taken seriously until they became vicious dictators. With Trump, we have a second chance," De Niro said, as noted by CNN. He also deemed Trump a "tyrant" and a coward.

Unsurprisingly, the criminal defendant was apoplectic. On Truth Social, Trump diagnosed De Niro with "Trump Derangement Syndrome" and wrote, "Robert, whose movies, artistry, and brand have gone WAY DOWN IN VALUE since he entered the political arena at the request of Crooked Joe Biden, looked so pathetic and sad out there" (via the Daily Beast). Trump ended his rant on an odd note when he quoted a lyric from the Simon & Garfunkel earworm "Mrs. Robinson," writing, "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio!!!" The song is famously featured in the movie "The Graduate," which stars Dustin Hoffman. The Daily Beast suggested that Trump had gotten De Niro and Hoffman confused, which made his attempt at a clever musical insult fall flat. Worse yet, De Niro got to relish his rival's guilty verdict. "I think justice was served," the actor told Variety.