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Robert De Niro and the bizarre world of celebrity egos

De Niro with Sharon Stone in Casino (1995). Universal Pictures/Getty

If you need a little joy in your life, says Hilary Rose in The Times, let me direct you to “the best show in town”: the New York court case in which Robert De Niro is suing, and being sued by, his former personal assistant Graham Chase Robinson. “It is, in a word, bliss.” She accuses him of treating her demeaningly: asking her to “pick up a particular martini from Nobu and bring it to his house at 11pm”; calling her – twice – when she was at her grandmother’s funeral. De Niro, for his part, “denied ever yelling at his former employee by yelling at her”. When she said he had once asked her to scratch his back for him – which he later conceded was true – he shouted across the courtroom, “Shame on you, Chase Robinson!”

But in the “bizarre world of celebrity egos and the assistants paid to massage them”, De Niro’s alleged behaviour isn’t out of the ordinary. One PA I spoke to in Los Angeles said a former employer had “screamed at her that the butter on his bread was too warm”. Another gave her “24 hours to get hold of a DVD unavailable in the US and ship it to the East Coast”. Naomi Campbell infamously pleaded guilty to assault after throwing a phone at her maid. Jennifer Lopez was reported to have “banned some staff from looking her in the eye”. And spare a thought for Christian Bale’s long-suffering PA. In his tell-all book, he said his duties had included “sniffing Christian’s armpits for BO right before he hit the red carpet”.