The bridge, Drina and Drena: My mother read Andric

Freepik/@ user1558154

Original article (in Serbian) was published on 30/08/2022

It happens, from time to time, that readers send us a request to check certain media content, which – in the end – turns out to be accurate or mildly manipulative, but without explicit lies. We include our brief conclusions about such cases in the However section. Two weeks ago, we received a request that requires a bit more space to clarify. Along with the link to the news from the web portal Nova, the reader submitted the following message:

The news that Robert de Niro named his daughter Drina after the river Drina has been repeated for the thousandth time. The news is false for several reasons: the daughter’s name is not Drina, but Drena, then, the name Drena is rare, but not unusual – it has existed since before and is a form of the name Andrea, and finally, Drena is not De Niro’s daughter at all, but he adopted her when he married her mother, in 1976, when Drena herself was already five years old, so he could not possibly give her a name. In short, the prototype of fake news is persistently repeated. Although it is news from the field of show business, I think it is a lie repeated so many times and that De Niro is such a famous personality that he deserves your attention.

A copy-paste story

And indeed: for at least 14 years, there has been information in the local media that the famous actor named his daughter after the river Drina: Politika reported on it in 2008, then B92 in 2009, InfoLo in 2015, and Serbia. Com in 2016, Steemit (text in English) in 2017, Blic, Telegraf, Alo, Luftika, Elle, Blic, Srpska Info, Etno selo Sunčana reka – Facebook in 2019, Blic, Trebinje Live, All About Serbia, Report.RS, YouTube channel obavesti me, YouTube Balkan Online in 2020, Mondo, Wanted, Objektiv, Alo, Espreso, Kurir, Luftika in 2021, Espreso, Nova, Opanak, YouTube Nenad Ulemek, as well as Ordinacija, Portal Mladi, and Qwizzeria (in English) in 2022.

In these texts, it is most often stated that “De Niro read the novel The Bridge on the Drina (Na Drini ćuprija), and named his daughter Drina, which is confirmed information stated in her biography published on IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)”.

However, as the reader who contacted us noted, Drina De Niro is the daughter of the American actress Diahnne Abbott from her previous relationship, and Robert De Niro adopted Drina only in 1976 when he married Diahnne.

On Drina De Niro’s IMDb page, in the Trivia section, it really says that she was named after Andric’s work: “She was named after a river called Drina that is featured in the book The Bridge on the Drina by a Nobel-winning writer Ivo Andric”. However, it is not specifically stated here that Robert De Niro named her. In addition, it should be taken into account that the users themselves can enter trivia on this site in a similar way as it is arranged on Wikipedia, so it does not necessarily mean that the data is reliable.

Drina De Niro: I was named after a river 

Tragac managed to get an answer from Drina De Niro, who confirmed that her mother chose the name after reading Andric’s book, and that she changed I to E because she knew that the pronunciation of the name would be “distorted” in English if it is spelled with I (Drina – Drena).

The information that Diahnne Abbott named Drina is also stated in one of Robert De Niro’s biographies – De Niro: A Life by Shawn Levy from 2014: “She had a daughter, Drina, who was named after a river in Yugoslavia about which Abbott read a book when she was pregnant”.

The domestic media also wrote about Robert De Niro’s alleged “special” relationship with Serbia through other stories: it was written that he feels like a Serb, that he condemns the bombing of Serbia, and that he would like to play Draza Mihajlovic (Balkan Press, Web Tribune, Telegraf, Info glas). Some media then deconstructed these allegations (Radio Free Europe and B92 in 2015, and Noizz in 2022).

Finally, to conclude – our reader is partially right: Robert De Niro did not name Drina, but Drina is still named after the river from the title of Andric’s novel.