Robert De Niro’s ‘The Comedian’ will start awards run with AFI Fest

Leslie Mann and Robert De Niro in "The Comedian."
(Sony Pictures Classics)

Robert De Niro will come charging into the awards race Nov. 11, when “The Comedian,” a film starring the seven-time Oscar nominee as an insult comic, has its world premiere at AFI Fest.

In director Taylor Hackford’s “The Comedian,” which Sony Pictures Classics acquired in October, De Niro plays an aging comic icon named Jackie, according to an AFI Fest press release. “Despite his efforts to reinvent himself and his comic genius, the audience only wants to know [Jackie] as the former television character he once played,” the release says.

The cast for the comedy also includes Danny DeVito as De Niro’s younger brother, Patti Lupone as his wife, Leslie Mann as a woman he meets while performing community service for accosting an audience member and Harvey Keitel as her sleazy Florida real estate mogul father.

De Niro, who already has Oscars for his performances in “The Godfather Part II” and “Raging Bull,” joins an already icon-heavy AFI Fest lineup this year. The opening-night gala will be the world premiere of Warren Beatty’s “Rules Don’t Apply”; Isabelle Huppert will be honored with a tribute followed by a centerpiece gala screening of Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle”; and Annette Bening will be honored with a tribute followed by a centerpiece gala screening of Mike Mills’ “20th Century Women.”


AFI Fest takes place Nov. 10–17 in Hollywood. The full festival lineup and schedule will be unveiled later in October.

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