In Robert De Niro’s new film “The Comedian,” the actor stars as an aging stand-up comic trying to make a career comeback.

For the role, he told “Extra’s” Charissa Thompson he has a new appreciation for comedians. “Some of my friends are comedians and they’re great. I wish I could do what Billy Crystal does. It’s so smart, off the cuff. He comes up with this stuff I could never do.”

He did have to do a lot of research for the role. Director Taylor Hackford recalls, “We would visit comedy clubs two, sometimes three nights a week, seeing five comedians a night.”

Also starring in the movie is Danny DeVito, who had never worked with De Niro in all of their years in the business. DeVito said, “He’s all the good things you want in an actor. It’s so much better to have somebody who’s not a total a** working with you."

“The Comedian” is in theaters February 3.

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