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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 18:40 GMT
De Niro to rock with Queen
Elton, De Niro, May and Taylor
Elton, De Niro, May and Taylor make an incongruous group

Hollywood's love affair with the London stage has deepened with a rare public appearance by Robert De Niro at the launch of his show based on the music of Queen.

Speaking at a press conference at the majestic Dominion Theatre on Tuesday, the notoriously private De Niro said the 7.5m We Will Rock You was going to be "terrific".

The Godfather star's New York company Tribeca is the production brainwave behind the musical - a futuristic adventure inspired by and featuring 31 of the rock band's hits.

Robert De Niro
De Niro: Does not give much away

De Niro has worked closely with band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, as well as the comedian Ben Elton, who wrote the script.

Elton and the ageing rockers Taylor and May were also at Tuesday's launch and the quartet made an incongruous-looking group.

At 58, the still suave De Niro was dressed in black leather jacket and sported perfectly coiffed greying black hair.

Beside him, Taylor and especially May, with his sky-high curls, were still evidently hanging on to their musical youth.

Bespectacled Elton, meanwhile, though growing old gracefully, still came across as the token clown.

Enigmatic

But, the purpose of the meeting was to fire enthusiasm for We Will Rock You, which is not opening until May.

And for that the group had turned to the Hollywood production values and appeal of screen legend De Niro.

In true megastar style, De Niro arrived almost an hour late.

Robert De Niro
De Niro: Not good on rock music

He then made a dramatic onstage appearance from the midst of clouds of smoke.

May, Taylor and Elton were by his side but the story-hungry press were predominantly interested in the US star.

Asked why he had wanted to make We Will Rock You, De Niro's answer indicated he was in a characteristically enigmatic mood.

"It was something I was interested in and knew it would be a great idea once it was got right for a musical," he said simply.

But he told reporters that he neither particularly liked rock music nor could he name a favourite Queen song.

Lively

The idea for the musical hit De Niro more than six years ago when he met May and Taylor at the Venice Film Festival.

It has taken since then to get the production underway - a long time for even the most elaborate show.

About A Boy
Hugh Grant stars in About A Boy

But De Niro seemed perplexed by the suggestion that production development should be anything but slow.

"That's how long things take," he said shrugging his shoulders and giving a lopsided grin. "They go through a lot of changes and stages of evolution."

By rights, De Niro should know. He has appeared in some of the most memorable and difficult movies in cinema history, such as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.

On top of that, his company Tribeca, founded in 1989, has become one of the liveliest movie production houses in New York.

One of Tribeca's most recent productions is About A Boy, based on the book by Nick Hornby.

Home

Like his musical collaboration with Queen, the project is quintessentially British, starring Hugh Grant and made in the UK.

And in bringing his talents to London, De Niro has joined an illustrious line of stars such as Nicole Kidman, Kevin Spacey and Daryl Hannah.

He also revealed that his daughter had spent time in the city working as a DJ.

But, asked if the rumours about him buying a flat in south London were true, De Niro was adamant and quick to respond.

"That's absolutely untrue," he said, with the voice of a New Yorker through and through.

"I'm only staying for a full rehearsal," he concluded. "And then I'm flying straight back home."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
We Will Rock You
"The story needed to be as big as the music itself"
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