'The War With Grandpa' Star Rob Riggle on Working With Robert De Niro: ‘It Was Surreal’ (Exclusive)

Comedian Rob Riggle had the chance to work with screen legend Robert De Niro on The War With Grandpa, a new family comedy hitting theaters next week. The film features an unconventional battle between Peter Decker (Oakes Fegley) and his grandfather Ed (De Niro) after the latter is forced to move in with the family, taking over his young grandson's old bedroom. Riggle stars as the boy's father, Arthur Decker, and described the role as "surreal" due to sharing scenes and playing family with two-time Oscar-winner De Niro.

While it might seem intimidating to share the screen with De Niro, considering his long history in movies and the great films on his resume, Riggle declined to describe his experience that way. "I would say thrilling. It was really exciting. Obviously, he's an icon," Riggle told PopCulture.com in a recent chat about the film. Riggle also expanded on the "surreal" nature of acting alongside De Niro, adding he felt similar about working with the other amazing talent in the cast. Riggle's on-screen wife is played by Kill Bill star Uma Thurman. De Niro's supporting cast includes legendary comedian Cheech Marin, Dr. Quinn star Jane Seymour, and film icon Christopher Walken.

"I would find myself in scenes with these, these wonderful actors that I've watched my whole life and enjoyed and admired. And I'm in a scene with them and I'm thinking, 'This is really cool, this is really special.,'" Riggle said. "They were, they all were very gracious, very kind. So it felt very comfortable." It was "one of the greatest thrills of all time" for Riggle to stand near Walken behind the scenes and just hear him talk about mundane subjects like traffic. "I could listen to him read a phone book and be just impressed and dazzled," Riggle said. "He's got such a great, obviously, unique speech rhythm and pattern that it's, I don't know, it's hypnotic."

One of the other unintentionally funny aspects of this family comedy, helmed by The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run director Tim Hill, is that it features a slew Quentin Tarantino veterans. Thurman and Walken both appeared in Pulp Fiction, with the former also holding down Kill Bill. Then De Niro was in Jackie Brown. Even Marin has a Tarantino connection through his work in From Dusk Till Dawn. None of these have the same target audience as The War With Grandpa, of course, but as Riggle notes, the film can act as an introduction to these actors for young viewers.


"I love the fact that younger audiences are gonna get to see these wonderful actors," Riggle said. "If they had to wait until they were 17... you would miss the magic that they possessed today. So I do love that younger people are gonna get to see these legendary actors do their stuff."

As for Hill, Riggle praised him as a "great director" who oversaw some "good synergy" on the set. The end result is a rare live-action comedy that families can enjoy together. "I love that families can watch this together and not have to cover anybody's eyes. It'll be - well, maybe one scene - but, it'll be a fun family movie for sure," Riggle said, referencing an awkward moment in the movie. The War with Grandpa is based on the book by Robert Kimmel Smith and hits theaters on Oct. 9.