Harvey Keitel imitating Robert De Niro – with De Niro watching none too pleased – adds more than a little history and subtext to this clip, exclusive to Deadline, from Taylor Hackford’s upcoming The Comedian. The impression itself? As De Niro indicates here, not too bad.
“Let me do you!,” says Keitel’s Mac to De Niro’s Jackie. “I got you down.” The set-up: De Niro is a famous comedian trying to reinvent himself and leave his old TV persona and catchphrases behind. He’s having dinner with a much younger woman (Leslie Mann) and her protective dad (Keitel), who immediately seems to grasp that the quickest way to mark his territory is to hit Jackie where it hurts: He demands Jackie perform some of his old shtick, then and there, and even offers to pay for the pleasure.
When Jackie declines, Keitel’s Mac launches into the imitation. It’s not hard to imagine De Niro having lived this scene many times, with “You talkin’ to me?” instead of “Whose vibrator is this??”
Also, watch for Keitel marking his territory even when ordering drinks. “My baby drinks martinis,” he says before the daughter has a chance to respond.
Sony Pictures Classics releases The Comedian nationwide February 3. The film also stars Edie Falco, Danny DeVito, Patti LuPone and Veronica Ferres. The story’s by Art Linson who co-wrote the script with Jeff Ross, Richard LaGravenese, and Lewis Friedman.