NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Robert De Niro shouted “Shame on you!” as he testified Tuesday in a New York courtroom, directing the comments toward his former executive assistant and vice president who seeks millions of dollars after accusing her onetime boss of being abusive.
Graham Chase Robinson watched with her lawyers while De Niro’s anger built as attorney Andrew Macurdy pelted him with some tabloid-style accusations his client made about De Niro’s behavior toward Robinson as she served his needs, large and small, from 2008 until several months into 2019.
Robinson, 41, seeks $12 million in damages for emotional distress and reputational harm that she claims has left her jobless and unable to recover from the trauma of working for De Niro. She was making $300,000 annually when she quit, frustrated by her interactions with De Niro’s girlfriend and the effect she believed the girlfriend was having on the actor.
The jury is also considering evidence pertaining to a lawsuit De Niro filed against Robinson in which he claimed that she stole things from him, including 5 million points that could be used for airline flights. De Niro is seeking the return of three years of Robinson’s salary.
Macurdy asked De Niro whether it was true that he sometimes urinated as he spoke with Robinson on the telephone.
“That’s nonsense,” De Niro answered. “You got us all here for this?”
Macurdy told De Niro he called Robinson “b—— to her face.”
“I was never abusive, ever,” the actor snapped back, though he conceded that he might have used the word in conversations with her.
And the claim that he told Robinson he preferred that she scratch his back rather than using a back scratching device drew another angry rebuke from De Niro, who said it might have happened once or twice, but “never was with disrespect or lewdness.”
Finally, he angrily looked toward Robinson and shouted: “Shame on you, Chase Robinson!”
Quickly, he blurted an apology in a quieter voice, as he glanced toward Judge Lewis J. Liman.
The actor admitted that there were no written rules for those who worked for him because, he said, he relied on the “rules of common sense.” He said he promoted Robinson with the title of vice president of his company, Canal Productions, at her request but he added that her duties didn’t change.
At times, De Niro would flatly deny something, only to later admit that there might be truth to it in a manner different than how it was suggested.
Asked if he once yelled at Robinson when she was in Europe and had failed to call and remind him of an important meeting in California, De Niro answered that he hadn’t, only to quickly add: “I raised my voice.”
“I got angry that one time,” he said. “I berated her. I wasn’t abusive. I was upset.”
“You called her a brat,” Macurdy said.
“I could have,” De Niro answered.
Sometimes, De Niro sounded like he wanted to leave the witness stand.
“I don’t have time for this,” he said at one point.
He rejected Macurdy’s suggestion that he sued Robinson before she sued him because he wanted publicity.
“It draws attention to me. It’s the last thing I wanted to do,” De Niro said.
De Niro, 80, has won two Oscars in a six-decade movie career that has featured memorable roles in films including “The Deer Hunter” and “Raging Bull.” Currently, he is in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.”