Hollywood star Robert De Niro wishes he was more charismatic off-screen.

The actor is revered as one of the greatest acting talents of his generation - but he confesses he'd love to have the charm and personality of contemporaries Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Dustin Hoffman, all of whom he has worked with.

He laments, "I just wish I had the talent to talk away from the film set. Look at DUSTIN HOFFMAN. I always envy the way he can speak and be smart and funny and so on. I just can't do that."

But De Niro insists the popular perception of him as moody and serious isn't entirely true - it just takes him a while to open up to people.

He adds, "I like to keep some people at a distance. And maybe people treat me with a bit too much reverence. It goes away after a while, of course. It cannot sustain itself for too long if you're working with people. You think it's possible to work with Billy Crystal without laughter? It's not. It's the same with Robin Williams.

"I like having fun on a film set, but some people think I always take it deadly seriously. I had some great times with KEN BRANAGH on MARY SHELLEY'S Frankenstein, particularly when my character of the Creature had to roll around on the floor. We used gallons of K-Y jelly and I could hardly focus. We just fell about laughing."

15/06/2004 13:35