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De Niro on Nobu: 'I love doing this'


This is what I told Robert De Niro on Sunday in a penthouse suite in Vegas’ new Nobu hotel (which he co-owns).

Over the course of my life, De Niro and Meryl Streep are the two people who have been called the world’s greatest actors more than anyone else.

“How do you process that acclaim?” I asked. “You can’t walk around saying, ‘I am the greatest actor who has ever lived.’ ”

De Niro paused for a moment. He is exactly what you would expect — polite and friendly but reserved with a slice of New York sharpness.

“I appreciate that,” De Niro said. “I don’t think about that much. I don’t think of myself as that.

“I think of everything about myself — the negative and whatever positive.

“So I have a whole other feeling of myself, or what I can do, or my capabilities. I just keep moving ahead. That’s it.”

Then he looked over at his friend sitting next to me, chef Nobu Matsuhisa. For decades, De Niro and Nobu have been opening Nobu restaurants across the world, from Vegas to Milan, Melbourne, London, Beijing.

They just opened their first Nobu hotel (with a restaurant attached) inside Caesars Palace.

So De Niro looked over at chef Nobu and continued to answer my question by talking about being a restaurateur and hotelier.

“I love doing this. It’s fun, and we’ve come a long way together,” De Niro said. “It’s an adventure. It’s another part of my life.”

Then De Niro joked: “And I try to get him (Nobu) as many acting jobs as I can.”

This is true. Chef Nobu was cast in a small role in “Casino,” and Nobu portrayed Mr. Roboto in “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” and he will appear in this year’s “The Girl From Nagasaki.”

So Nobu looked back at De Niro and started telling him about a movie concept. De Niro smiled, looked at me and explained:

“OK, he’s pitching me a movie. ... Nobu is always on me about it.”

Nobu laughed.

Anyway, they just opened this boutique hotel and restaurant inside Caesars. Nobu hotel has only 181 rooms so the 24-hour room service should arrive within 20 minutes, Nobu said, pitching me.

He said great food, hospitality and beds have earned good reactions from guests.

“We’ve been working on this awhile, and this is the first one, and we’re excited,” De Niro said.

This is De Niro’s second hotel. He owns the 88-room luxury Greenwich Hotel in Manhattan. He wants to expand as a hotelier.

“I just thought if I’d do it, I’d open a hotel in different parts of the world and spend, like, 10 years going around building and perfecting them. I never thought this would be the first hotel, but it’s a logical progression for us.”

I asked him whether he has any Vegas stories that wouldn’t land him on TMZ.

“No ‘Hangover’ stories,” he said. Which seemed improbable. But I let it go.

Was there anything else I could tell Robert De Niro before he and Nobu took off to lead a sake ceremony and pool party for the next few hours? Yes.

“I think you should put me in the movies. I mean, look at these eyes. They were made for the movies,” I said and twirled them around in circles.

“I’ll keep you in mind,” De Niro said.

Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.