Actor Robert De Niro arrives for a screening of The Bang Bang Club during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York April 21, 2011.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson  (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Robert De Niro. Picture: Reuters

Hollywood icon Robert De Niro regrets missing the opportunity to really bond with his artist father and discuss his sexuality after realising his dad was gay.

The Raging Bull star, 70, has delved into the late sculptor and painter's personal diaries for a new documentary film, titled Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr. In one scene the actor becomes emotional as he reads about his dad's struggle with homosexuality.

In a new interview with Out magazine, De Niro reflects on his father's lifestyle, saying: "He probably was (conflicted about his sexuality), being from that generation, especially from a small town upstate (in New York).

"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 . . .

"For my kids, I want them to stop and take a moment and realise that you sometimes have to do things now instead of later, because later may be 20 years from now - and that's too late."

However, De Niro insists he and his dad were close, even though they didn't spend too much time together.

"We were not the type of father and son who played baseball together, as you can surmise. But we had a connection," he says.

"I wasn't with him a lot, because my mother and he were separated and divorced . . . He was absent in some ways. (But) he was very loving. He adored me . . . as I do my kids."

The West Australian

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