Approximately two weeks after Tribeca Film Festival co-founder and noted actor Robert De Niro pulled the anti-vaccination movie Vaxxed from the lineup, he seems to be backpedalling about his thoughts on the autism-vaccines debate.
De Niro, 72, appeared on the Today show Wednesday morning, and the interview quickly turned into a discussion about Vaxxed and what its intentions are. The legendary actor was also quizzed about his personal life, including his son, who has autism.
“I think the movie is something that people should see,” he said. “There’s a lot of information about things that are happening with the CDC, the pharmaceutical companies, there’s a lot of things that are not said. I, as a parent of a child who has autism, I’m concerned. And I want to know the truth. I’m not anti-vaccine. I want safe vaccines.”
When Today host Willie Geist points out that there’s plenty of scientific evidence proving that vaccines don’t cause autism, De Niro replied that he thinks everyone should see Vaxxed and decide for themselves.
“I believe it’s much more complicated,” he said. “For me to get so upset here today, on the Today show with you guys, means there’s something there. That’s all I wanted, was for the movie to be seen. People can make their own judgment, but you must see it. There’s other things that just document and show. It’s not a simple thing … I’m not a scientist, but I’ve seen so much reaction of just ‘Let’s find out the truth,’ so let’s just find out the truth.”
Despite his perceived alliance with the filmmaker’s message, De Niro re-emphasizes during the interview that he’s not anti-vaccination, and is more concerned with people potentially being allergic or sensitive to ingredients within the vaccines.
De Niro went on to say that he partially “regrets” withdrawing Vaxxed from the festival, despite the director (and doctor) Andrew Wakefield’s disgraced position within the medical community.
Wakefield conducted a study — published in 1998 in The Lancet — which concluded there’s a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism spectrum disorders. The study was debunked and retracted, and Wakefield has since been barred from practicing medicine because of a conflict of financial interest.
Vaxxed was ultimately picked up for limited release in the U.S. and is currently being screened at a small number of theatres.
(Watch a clip of the De Niro interview, above.)