Robert De Niro opens up about father's struggles with being gay

We don’t often see the softer side of tough guy actor Robert De Niro, but in a recent interview with Out magazine he opened up about his late father, Robert De Niro Sr., an artist who struggled with his sexuality.

A new HBO documentary, Remembering the Artist, explores the world of his father who was an American abstract expressionist painter, and his son is hoping the film will shed a light on his father’s great work and battle with accepting his homosexuality. "It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him," he told the mag. "He probably was [conflicted] about his homosexuality, being from that generation, especially from a small town upstate.”

Although the pair were close, De Niro wishes they had opened up to each other more about this topic: “I was not aware, much, of it. I wish we had spoken about it much more. My mother didn’t want to talk about things in general, and you’re not interested when you’re a certain age. Again, for my kids, I want them to stop and take a moment and realize that you sometimes have to do things now instead of later, because later may be 20 years from now — and that’s too late.”

De Niro continues to preserve his father’s work in the original SoHo home and studio where most of his pieces were created. The artist passed away due to cancer at the age of 71 in May 1993, about 20 years ago.

Remembering the Artist premieres on HBO Monday, June 9.