'Analyze This' takes Mafia to the couch
March 5, 1999
From Correspondent Bill Tush
(CNN) -- Robert De Niro is playing another mob figure in his latest film called "Analyze This," but it's one like he's never played before. His character, Paul Vitti, can't even whack a guy without feeling bad. So secretly, he sees a shrink, played by Billy Crystal.
"Well, that was the joke, you know, that he would break down and cry at the slightest thing, and so that was fun," De Niro says.
But for the first time, this Academy Award winner is poking fun at the mobster character he is best known for. Who could forget him in "Goodfellas," or as Al Capone in "The Untouchables"?
De Niro says he was a little concerned about how to play the character.
"I just wanted it to be done as well as it could be done and not sentimental or hokey or over the top," he says. "I mean, it is a comedy so there are things that you do that are pushed a little bit."
Crystal, the therapist and half of this unlikely comedy team, even saw laughs in some of De Niro's more serious roles.
"Even in 'Raging Bull' there are laughs," Crystal claims, describing the scenes in the Martin Scorsese film in which De Niro's character unsuccessfully tries stand-up comedy. "And I told him it's the stuff when his character is on stage. His natural feel for it was like perfect ... And he loves to laugh, so we kid a lot."
Lisa Kudrow also stars. Her character spends most of the picture trying to marry Crystal, but De Niro keeps getting in the way. Kudrow has to hold her own with co-stars who could chew the scenery if they wanted to.
"You have to overlook it," Kudrow says. "My only fear was hopefully you won't be distracted by who you're looking at."
But when it was all over, for all involved, "Analyze This" was a fun show to be on.
"If anything, we ruined a lot of film just by giggling," Crystal says.
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