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De Niro & Declan Lowney

De Niro Comedy Ad

One of Ireland’s most well-known directors, Declan Lowney has just directed the legend that is Robert De Niro in a UK ad for Warburton’s bagels. The shoot took place in a secure studio in Wembley in London last December. See it here.


Declan trained as a producer/director with Irish channel RTE before moving to London to work with some of the biggest TV and live concert music producers before he was asked to direct a brand new Irish sitcom Father Ted for Channel 4 which was recently voted the 2nd best British sitcom after Fawlty Towers. As Fec Dec Films been he has been in charge of numerous commercials in Ireland and the UK plus he is an Emmy and BAFTA-winning TV director with a long list of credits including Father Ted, Moone Boy, Little Britain and Alan Partridge.

Moving to LA in summer 2019 the future only gets brighter for one of Ireland’s most successful film exports.

Declan’s passion is Comedy, and he has worked with the cream of British and Irish comedy talent, including Steve Coogan, Eddie Izzard, Paul Whitehouse, Johnny Vegas, Matt Lucas and David Walliams.

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De Niro – career high or low? (below courtesy The Gaurdian UK)

First, let’s not pretend that Robert De Niro is above making commercials. Actors of his generation and calibre have long supplemented their income with adverts. Witness Christopher Walken advertising cars Witness Harvey Keitel advertising car insurance. Witness Willem Dafoe advertising fish fingers. Witness Al Pacino spoofing the idea of selling out for an advert in a film immediately selling out for a real advert.

What’s more, Robert De Niro himself has made commercials before. In 1970, back when he was a struggling hopeful making Roger Corman movies, he starred in an advert for the AMC Ambassador that managed to be even more stuffed to the gills with two-dimensional stereotypes than the bagel ad. There’s a kid in a vest shouting “Hey Ma! Pa!”. There’s an Italian American father who shadowboxes his son. There’s De Niro himself, kissing his mother and yelling “You look BEEEOOOOOTIFOW” in a way that would make the Italic Institute of America choke on its meatballs. Compared to this, the Warburtons advert is a finely considered work of unparalleled restraint.

Making a point … De Niro finally gets to raise a finger in anger.
 Making a point … De Niro finally gets to raise a finger in anger. Photograph: Jeff Moore/Warburtons/PA

But most importantly, he’s actually good in it. Even in the first five seconds of the Warburtons ad, De Niro looks more assured than he has in decades. To look at the last two decades of his filmography is to see a man wholly lost at sea. He doesn’t know what we want from him any more. He doesn’t know who he is. Should he try to maintain his leading-man status in drearily unworthy dramas such as The Comedian and Grudge Match? Should he try to maintain his integrity by talking small parts in well-received but under-watched indies? Should he make more Dirty Grandpas? Is that what people want?

The Warburtons advert is different. The Warburtons advert understands how to play to his strengths. Look at the swagger as he walks into the bakery office and slams down a newspaper. Look at the happiness in his eyes because he finally gets to raise a finger and interrupt a stammering authority figure again. Listen to the confidence when he introduces his colleagues Benny Slice, Tony Two Bagels and Jimmy Butterfingers. Look at the commitment in his eyes when he growls: “Bolton bakes best bagel? My butt.” De Niro is luxuriating in his comfort zone here. I might even go as far as saying that Warburtons understands him better than anyone in the world outside of Scorsese.

Sure, it’s easy to knock a fading actor like Robert De Niro for cashing in his reputation to advertise bread, but I ask you this: would you rather watch the Warburtons advert 47 times in a row, or his 2002 Eddie Murphy buddy cop disaster Showtime just once? The bagels win every time.



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