De Niro on Acting/Life

On “Inside the Actors Studio” you were asked to give young actors advice, and you said, “You have nothing to lose, so make it as personal as you can.” What did you mean by that?

What I meant was if you’re going for a reading and you got nothing to lose because so many things are stacked against you — there’s a lot of competition out there — so when you read, the only thing you have is your own uniqueness. So, you don’t need to be afraid to follow your instincts about what you think the character is doing. Just go with it, because if nothing else, the people watching you, the director, the casting people, whatever, will be impressed by what you’ve done and they’ll take notice. You have to try and be courageous. Don’t hold back … Just go with it. And sometimes it’s easier because you know where to go with the character, and sometimes it’s harder. But in general, just follow your instincts — even if you know you’re going to fail. If you don’t take that risk, you’re probably not going to make an impression.

That was a quote from this fascinating interview.