Robert de Niro makes surprise live appearance at Manila event

Robert de Niro at bthe National Museum in Manila, Jan 27, 2014. (Photo by Ces Rodriguez)

UPDATED WITH PHOTOS--Hollywood legend Robert de Niro made a surprise appearance at the Nobu Hotel announcement launch held Moinday noon at the National Museum in Manila.

The actor, who is a partner with the chain of Nobu restaurants and hotels around the world, was first viewed by guests at the event in a supposed satellite feed.

Together with partners Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Hollywood film producer Meir Tepper and chief executive Trevor Howell, De Niro sent his well wishes to the Philippine and international team of developers Melco Crown.

“I will be happy to go there and hope to see you soon,” he said.

From 'feed' to 'live'

Then, when the “feed” ran into supposed technical difficulties, De Niro himself with Chef Nobu and their partners, sauntered onstage to the surprise of the guests, who whooped and applauded his presence.

Looking shorter than his larger-than-life screen persona and wearing a casual suit, De Niro sat poker-faced and silent for the most part as the press fielded questions to all but De Niro. He occasionally whispered to to Chef Nobu, presumably clarifying certain questions from the press. At times, he grinned.

Finally, replying to a question from Yahoo Philippines about being involved in the restaurant business, he said, “I started in Tribeca in New York. We had a restaurant and grill and…being from New York (opening a restaurant) was a no-brainer.”

Success of restaurant biz

He met Chef Nobu and then persuaded producer and fellow Hollywood denizen Meir Teper to invest in the restaurant that bore the chef’s name.

“Did I expect it to grow (the way it did)?” De Niro asked. “No, I didn’t expect it. It just goes to show that people might go for the menu or the celebrity—once or twice and that’s it.”

But it’s the food that eventually keeps drawing people in, he suggested.

“We continue to be modest and creative and simple—and it’s that simple,” he said of Nobu’s success.

The 321-room Nobu Hotel will rise in the City of Dreams, a 6.2-hectare entertainment complex along Manila Bay, which Melco Crown Philippines is developing in alliance with SM Group’s Belle Corporation. It’s set to open this year.

The actor's handler refused to divulge how long De Niro was going to stay in the Philippines.