Robert De Niro has given explosive testimony in court after being hit with a lawsuit from his former female assistant, who has accused the actor of verbal abuse and gender discrimination.
The Oscar-winning star, 80, fronted New York City federal courthouse on Tuesday, local time, for day two of the civil case, where he lost his temper on the stand while admitting to berating his past assistant, Graham Chase Robinson, on occasion.
De Niro’s production house, Canal Productions, filed a $US6 million ($A9.5 million) suit against Robinson in August 2019, alleging she binge-watched TV while at work, embezzled money and stole millions in frequent-flyer points. Robinson, who was the company’s Vice President for Production and Finance on a $US300,000 ($A474,000) annual salary, had been an employee since 2008.
Robinson swiftly countersued with a $US12 million ($A19 million) filing, claiming De Niro made suggestive remarks to her, would use sexist language and paid her less than male colleagues. Her defence team claims De Niro’s company launched its lawsuit after being made aware Robinson was planning to file one.
On the stand on Tuesday, People reports De Niro was questioned by Robinson’s lawyer Andrew Macurdy about whether he called her “names”, citing an alleged incident in which the Irishman actor was angry at Robinson for failing to wake him for a meeting.
“Yeah, fine, I berated her,” De Niro admitted, agreeing he may have called her “petulant” and a “f***ing spoiled brat.”
“I’ve raised my voice,” he continued. “[But] I don’t yell. You wanna dispute that? That’s one thing I don’t do.”
De Niro then turned his attention directly to Robinson, who was present in the courtroom, after being quizzed about allegations he would often ask her to scratch his back when it was itchy.
“Every little thing she’s trying to get me on is nonsense! Shame on you, Chase Robinson,” De Niro yelled, before quietly apologising.
De Niro, a two-time Academy Award winner, became increasingly frustrated with the “nonsense” allegations levelled at him during his lengthy testimony, including a claim he would urinate during phone calls with Robinson.
“Give me a break with this nonsense. You got us all here for this?” De Niro answered. “The whole case is nonsense. It’s absurd. But I’m here!”
De Niro is seeking three-years worth of Robinson’s salary as part of his suit, alleging she stole five million frequent flyer points accrued on a company credit card. His filing also states she watched “astounding hours of TV shows” – including Friends – during work hours.
Robinson, meanwhile, is asking for $US12million in damages, claiming the public lawsuit has harmed her mental health, professional reputation and left her jobless.
The trial is expected to run until November 10.