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Stephen Colbert and Robert De Niro share Trump talk, a minute's silence, ice cream sundaes

Robert De Niro, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Taped on Tuesday but broadcast as part of Friday’s show (as is Stephen Colbert’s sneaky way), last night’s Late Show interview with guest Robert De Niro was enjoyably halting, if that’s a thing. Colbert was upfront about what he was expecting from the infamously terse and no-bullshit De Niro, prefacing his questions by noting that, just maybe, De Niro isn’t usually as thrilled to be doing talk shows as talk show hosts are to have him there. Saying that the pair have occasionally dealt with the, as Colbert put it, “more awkward aspects of an interview” by breaking into The Late Show’s secret, emergency in-studio bar, the host told De Niro that he had something different in mind. Producing a pair of ice cream sundaes from under the desk, Colbert promised De Niro an entire minute of peaceful, ice cream-eating silence, which went over just as well, with the actor even happily accepting a mouthful of whipped cream right from the can.

The two eventually did do some talking, with De Niro straightforwardly plugging his upcoming ninth collaboration with Martin Scorsese on this fall’s gangland drama The Irishman. Explaining the appeal of the gangster genre, De Niro opined that people just like “the outlaw-type thing,” before taking the Robert De Niro prerogative to segue into some tough talk about the person he called the “wannabe gangster in the White House.” Calling Donald Trump a “total loser,” and a “disappointed dunsky,” and mocking Trump for not having even the moral code of an actual mob boss, the 75-year-old De Niro was fully spoiling for a fight with the 72-year-old Trump. Which would be a lot more entertaining than Grudge Match, certainly.

Speaking of his recurring role as Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Saturday Night Live, De Niro called the drop-in gig his “civic duty.” And while De Niro’s style might not translate all that readily into the live sketch comedy format as a rule (“dutiful” might accurately describe his SNL appearances), he did tell Colbert that he’s hoping to work it out so that he’s the one to take Donald Trump out of that particular residence “in an orange jumpsuit.” Which, okay, multiple jurisdictional issues aside, would also be pretty entertaining to watch.

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.