Renowned for his acting prowess, Robert De Niro has crafted a Hollywood legacy as compelling as the roles he’s breathed life into.
Let’s delve into five captivating facets of De Niro’s personal journey and illustrious career that might surprise you.
1. Holding Records and Navigating Controversies: De Niro shares an impressive record with fellow thespian Harrison Ford – both have starred in eight films that grace IMDb’s top 250 list, a testament to their cinematic impact.
De Niro’s pursuit of his Italian roots and citizenship, however, wasn’t without friction.
He faced objections from the Sons of Italy, an Italian American association, which claimed that De Niro’s frequent depiction of Italian criminals in his movies had negatively skewed perceptions of their community.
2. Master of Method Acting: De Niro‘s commitment to his roles is remarkable. He gained 60 lbs for ‘Raging Bull,’ lived in Sicily, Italy, for ‘The Godfather Part II,’ ground his teeth for ‘Cape Fear,’ drove a cab for ‘Taxi Driver,’ and learned to play the saxophone for ‘New York, New York.’ During ‘Goodfellas,’ De Niro meticulously learned about the real Jimmy Burke, even adopting his unique ketchup pouring technique for the film. For ‘The Untouchables,’ he sought out and used the services of Al Capone’s actual tailor.
3. Upbringing: De Niro was brought up in New York, within a culturally diverse family. His father was an openly gay Catholic, and his mother was an atheist. This unusual blend shaped the Irish American actor’s upbringing, contributing to his complex character.
4. A Quest for Authenticity: De Niro’s relentless pursuit of authenticity extended to the disturbing Russian roulette scene in ‘The Deer Hunter.’ He insisted on having a live cartridge in the revolver for this scene. Co-actor John Cazale, affected by the intensity of the scene, compulsively checked the gun before every take to ensure the live round wasn’t next in the chamber.
5. Spontaneous Creativity: In the world of film, few lines are as iconic as “You Talkin’ To Me?” from Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver.’ Interestingly, this line wasn’t scripted but an off-the-cuff addition by De Niro himself. The entire monologue was a product of De Niro’s spontaneous artistry, inspired in part by a Bruce Springsteen performance he’d seen in Greenwich Village shortly before the shoot.