Robert De Niro Full Biography – He’s a famous Italian-American mobster, gangster, and the father of… many people, even inreal life.He is a taxi driver, a boxer, a musician – a talented person is talented in everything,or he is Robert De Niro.
What does attract so much to his figure, his silent nature or frenzied charisma? To whom does Robert owe his fame? And why does Mickey Rourke hate him?
Today we will talk about the rich and difficult life of Robert De Niro. Get comfortable, and let’s get started! CHILDHOOD Robert Anthony De Niro Jr. was born in the Manhattan borough of New York City on August 17, 1943.
He was the only child of Virginia Admiral and Robert De Niro Sr. His mother was an artist
and poetess and had Dutch, English, French and German ancestry. His father was an abstract expressionist and a sculptor.He was of Irish and Italian descent.
They met at Hans Hofmann’s drawing class in Provincetown, Massachusetts. And when the boy was two years old, the couple broke up after the father announced that he was gay.
As a result, Robert De Niro Jr. was raised by his mother in the Greenwich Village and Little Italy neighbors of Manhattan.
At a late age, Robert recalled the divorce of his parents due to his father’s coming out:
Inset quote: “I was not aware, much, of it. I wish we had spoken about it much more.
My mother didn’t want to talk about things in general, and you’re not interested when you’re a certain age.”
(Robert De Niro) De Niro Sr. lived nearby, and remained close with De Niro during his childhood, but the boy was alone most of the time. He met street children and had many friends in the Little Italy area, despite his father’s great disapproval.
They nicknamed him “Bobby Milk” because of his pale complexion, and have remained his
lifelong friends. De Niro grew up in a fairly Bohemian but not very religious family. His mother was raised Presbyterian but became an atheist as an adult, while his father had been a lapsed Catholic since the age of 12.
Against his parents’ wishes, his grandparents had De Niro secretly baptized into the Catholic
Church while he was staying with them during his parents’ divorce. As a child, Robert attended Public School 41 in the Greenwich Village area. There he studied until the 6th grade.
And even then, De Niro showed his creative and acting abilities. From time to time he saw how his father painted in the workshop. And sometimes they went to the cinema together to watch films with Greta Garbo. His father really liked them.
Those film screenings with his father instilled in Robert a love of cinema. And Greta Garbo influenced his career, as he admitted in a late interview. Since then, while still in elementary school, Robert wanted to be an actor and started taking acting classes at the Drama Workshop.
And at the age of 10, he made his stage debut in the school production of The Wonderful
Wizard of Oz, having the role of Cowardly Lion. He later went to Elisabeth Irwin High School for 7th and 8th grades. And from there he entered the High School of Music and Art for the 9th grade.
But, he did not stay there for long before he transferred to the state – Charles Evans Hughes Junior High School.
Robert also attended college-preparatory school at McBurney School and later, private school
Rhodes Preparatory School, where actor James Caan also studied. They would meet later. But since Robert found performing as a way to relieve his shyness, and was passionate
about cinema, he dropped out of school at the age of 16 to pursue acting.
Later, he admitted what inspired him to become an actor:
Inset quote: “When I was around 18, I was looking at a TV show and I said, ‘If these
actors are making a living at it, and they’re not really that good, I can’t do any worse
(Robert De Niro) He began studying acting at HB Studio and
Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio.
There he was taught by Stella Adler, who personally studied the acting method with Stanislavsky
and Lee Strasberg.
Over the years, she began to teach at the Stella Adler Conservatory, and from her, Robert
first learned about the Stanislavsky system.
By the way, Marlon Brando and Harvey Keitel became other successful Adler graduates.
Adler taught that if a character is talking about horseback riding, the actor needs to
know something about horseback riding, or he will pretend.
It is important to study the values of different people to understand what situations mean
for people that may mean nothing to an actor.
According to Adler, the actor goes on stage “naked” without this.
Robert learned the lesson.
He was inspired by the work of actors such as Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, James
Dean, Greta Garbo and Geraldine Page.
By the age of 20, Robert had already learned a lot and was ready to conquer the world of
It was not so easy to do this, but in 1963, he received his first screen role from a well-known
But, at that time, both of them were not destined to quickly become successful.
THE BEGINNING OF HIS CAREER It was 1963.
An ambitious director Brian De Palma noticed Robert, and they developed a rather warm friendship.
Brian cast Robert in the lead role in his directorial debut with Wilford Leach – film
farce The Wedding Party.
It is about the communication of the future groom with various relatives of his bride
and participants in the wedding celebration before the ceremony at the family estate.
However, due to a dispute with Stanley Borden, the owner of American Films, who financed
the picture and was De Palma’s employer, the film was not released that year.
But, The Wedding Party was released only in 1969, when De Palma’s star had risen enough
in the filmmaking sky.
During filming, Robert was still unknown to anyone because his name was mistakenly indicated
in the credits as “Robert DeNero”.
For his role, he received the first fee of $50.
And while the picture remained unreleased, Robert had a minor role in the French drama
Three Rooms in Manhattan.
He played a client in a dinner scene, but was not even listed in the credits.
It was his screen debut.
In 1968, he played in two more films.
He first reappeared in a minor role in Les Jeunes Loups, a film by Marcel Carné.
The film production was accompanied by incessant quarrels.
The censors demanded cuts that distorted the film, so Marcel Carné disowned it and refused
to attend the premiere.
De Niro was no closer to his goal.
At that time, Brian De Palma cast Robert in the lead role in the black comedy Greetings.
The satirical film told the story of men who avoided the draft – Robert played the role
of Jon Rubin, a peeping tom and aspiring filmmaker.
De Palma was not shy about the work, and Greetings became the first American film to receive
an X rating from the American Film Association.
Later, it was changed to an R rating.
The film was presented at the 9th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won a Silver Bear
award, giving De Palma and De Niro their first fame.
In fact, it was the first film in which Robert was indicated in the credits.
They continued their collaboration and worked together on the director’s next black comedy,
There Robert again had the role of Jon Rubin, who, according to the plot, was a young “adult
film director” who decided to put cameras in his window to film his neighbors.
The film again received a special age rating for its explicit scenes – more specifically
because of one in which the character Gerrit Graham painted his body with paint, including
As a result, those shots were cut and the film was given an R rating.
Critics were satisfied and highly appreciated the film’s inventive humor.
Also, in addition to his work with De Palma, Robert played a New York political film director
in Jordan Leondopoulos’ 1969 film Sam’s Song.
The film was not particularly remarkable, but interestingly, ten years later, its footage
was recut into a completely different neo-noir crime film Leondopoulos’ The Swap.
It was known in the American cinema as Line of Fire.
In it, Robert also played the lead role of Sam Nicoletti, but the film he was working
on was not political but more explicit.
It happened because the director wanted to see Robert in his new film, but did not have
Then he decided to use the footage already taken with the actor.
De Niro was outraged that Cannon Films had taken footage of him and pasted it into a
He was ready to initiate legal action, but it never came to that.
In general, in the first five years of De Niro in cinema, one gets the feeling that
he played all sorts of dubious characters and starred in independent auteur films.
Because of that, he was still unknown.
However, famous film critic Howard Thompson of The New York Times drew attention to one
of De Palma’s comedies and praised the aspiring actor.
In 1970, Robert appeared in Roger Corman’s low-budget crime drama Bloody Mama.
It was a loose adaptation of the life of Ma Barker, a corrupt, mentally unstable mother
who encourages and organizes the criminal activities of four criminal sons.
De Niro portrayed one of them – Lloyd Barker.
For his role, Robert lost about 30 pounds and came to Arkansas a week before filming
began to learn all about the local culture.
In a later interview with Esquire Magazine, he admitted that he spent his lunch break
one day during filming sleeping in an open grave to better stay in the role.
The film also stars Bruce Dern and Academy Award winner Shelley Winters.
Therefore, it can be considered the first major project for Robert De Niro.
At the box office, Bloody Mama also became the highest-grossing film of that year, although
neither critics nor audiences appreciated it much.
However, no matter how disastrous Robert’s first works were, all those crime films and
comedies formed the direction in which he would act throughout his career.
In 1971, he played in three films at once.
The role in Noel Black’s drama Jennifer on My Mind was subtle but important.
He had the role of a taxi driver (later, Robert would return to that image).
He also appeared in the criminal black comedy Born to Win by Ivan Passer.
His role was not much more remarkable, but Robert tried his best to make his minor character
more visible and draw attention from the key film characters.
According to the director, De Niro was on the verge of being kicked out of the project
several times for his behavior.
Well, the last of that year was the appearance in the crime comedy The Gang That Couldn’t
Shoot Straight, directed by James Goldstone.
The film is based on the novel of the same name by Jimmy Breslin and tells about the
life of the Italian-American gangster Joe Gallo.
Interestingly, Francis Ford Coppola could have worked on the film initially, but the
producers refused him for his lack of experience in making films about the mafia.
Al Pacino was chosen for the lead role, but during rehearsals, he refused to participate
and went to another picture about the mafia… to Coppola.
You probably already understand what kind of film it was and how it ended.
Robert, on the other hand, was chosen to replace Al, whom he already knew a little by that
By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the great actor, click on the pop
up card in the upper right corner of the screen and watch a video about the rise and fall
of the unsurpassed Al Pacino.
And you can write in the comments what other “wunderkind” you would like to know about
in our next video!
The actors met back in the late 1960s, when they were both newcomers.
And it turned out they have a lot in common!
Pacino and De Niro grew up in New York in the 1940s.
They were children of divorced parents, attended acting school, and admired the same talented
actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean.
And later, they both started their acting careers with lead roles in gangster films.
And when both of them suddenly faced great fame, their friendship helped them to endure
Robert admitted in an interview: “It was a good thing that we had each other to talk
Pacino is three years older than De Niro.
Robert is laconic and even less often goes to interviews and talks to journalists.
He is calmer, while Pacino has a bright personality.
Fifty years later, they gave interviews together and reminisced about their path, but, at that
time, they just started their careers in Hollywood.
The warmth and camaraderie between the actors have spanned decades in the business and playful
competition for roles.
The absence of hostile competition makes their friendship real.
They never held a grudge and always took an example from each other.
In an interview, Robert said: Inset quote: “You’re not competitive.
If a person gets a part and they’re great in it, that’s fine.
It’s when an actor is not good for it and they’re chosen for the wrong reasons, then
you are regretful and not even jealous.
You say, well, O.K., there you go.
That’s just what it is.”
(Robert De Niro) So, for example, De Niro claimed that Al taught
him to go to role readings with the director and other actors before filming to better
understand the material.
By the way, he went to the casting in The Godfather, where Pacino played, but then decided
to refuse in favor of The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
Robert spent some time on the stage of The American Place Theater, participating in two
plays by Charles Maryan.
His next appearance on the screen was the sports drama Bang the Drum Slowly, directed
by John D. Hancock.
The film adaptation of the novel of the same name tells about the baseball player Bruce
Pearson, a Major League Baseball player, who is terminally ill with Hodgkin disease.
The smarter and more experienced teammate of Robert’s character was Michael Moriarty.
Robert auditioned for the lead role seven times before finally getting it.
During pre-production, he traveled to Florida to watch baseball teams’ spring training,
then visited Georgia and taped local conversations to study their accents.
Since De Niro didn’t even know the basics of baseball, the actor and co-star Danny Aiello
showed the basics of throwing and hitting.
By the way, he and Danny would work together in a few more films.
But, it is unknown whether Robert played baseball at least once after that, or whether he even
took up a bat at least once.
Critics praised the film and were impressed with De Niro’s performance.
The Hollywood Reporter stated: “De Niro proves himself to be one of the best and most likable
young character actors in movies with this performance.”
It was Robert’s first significant success, and his following projects only confirmed
During that period, Robert met another talent of Italian-American origin, with whom he had
working and later quite friendly relations, Martin Scorsese.
The director invited Robert to the crime film Mean Streets, starring Harvey Keitel.
Scorsese and De Niro didn’t communicate for many years after they first met in their teens,
when Martin, like Robert, grew up in the Little Italy area.
But in the 70s, the universe brought them together again.
Martin gave the actor several roles to choose from, but still wanted Robert to play “Johnny
Boy” Civello, a petty criminal who makes his way into the local mafia.
According to the director, Robert just fit perfectly into the project.
Inset quote: “I planned to do Mean Streets, and he got the people, and the tone and flavor
and temperature of it.
He knew just how to stand, what hat to wear.
He just knew it all, basically and there was complete confidence in what he was doing.”
(Martin Scorsese) De Niro and Keitel had complete freedom to
improvise in certain scenes, but assistant director Ron Satlof recalled that Robert was
“extremely serious, extremely involved in his role and preparation.”
Because of that, he remained somehow isolated from other actors and filmmakers.
It may have helped him get a better feel for his character and play him so well.
The critics were ecstatic.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and five months later at the New York Film
Many noted Robert’s talented performance.
For example, the actor won the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics
Circle award for Best Supporting Actor for his role.
Interestingly, it was not the debut film of Martin Scorsese, but it was the first written
and directed film by him personally.
And the money for its creation was given by Francis Ford Coppola.
It’s probably not a secret to anyone that it was just the beginning of Martin’s and
Later, they would meet eight more times.
In the meantime, on the wave of success, Coppola decided to pay tribute to De Niro’s efforts
at the casting of The Godfather and invited him to play in the sequel.
The director entrusted Robert with a lead role in the crime epic – to play the young
De Niro mainly spoke in a few Sicilian dialects and said only a couple of phrases in English
to better portray his on-screen character.
Interestingly, the paths of Robert and Al Pacino crossed again.
However, they played according to the plot in different periods and, therefore, did not
have joint scenes in the film.
The Godfather Part II was a successful sequel to the sensational classics.
It received eleven nominations at the 47th Academy Awards and won six of them.
There was also De Niro’s first major award as the best supporting actor.
De Niro’s first Academy Awards win, but he was not present, so Coppola accepted the award
on his behalf.
De Niro and Marlon Brando, who played Vito Corleone in the first film, became the first
pair of actors to win an Academy Award for playing the same fictional character.
We can say that Robert owed his success to his friends Brian and Martin, who helped him
take his first noticeable steps.
But it would be wrong, because his steps also helped them, and Robert’s career continued
to go uphill without stopping.
NOT A VERY RECOGNIZABLE SUPERSTAR It was a period in Robert’s career when, with
each new project, he became more popular.
Martin Scorsese again agreed to work with Robert and invited him to the lead role in
the neo-noir psychological thriller Taxi Driver.
There, the actor had the freedom, and, therefore, he appeared on the screen in all its glory.
Robert had the role of a Vietnam War veteran, Travis Bickle, who worked as a taxi driver
and observed the morally decaying New York at night.
Robert again worked with Harvey Keitel, although at that time, the significance of their roles
Also, the target of his observations in the film was the unknown young actress Jodie Foster.
The director relied on Robert to give instructions to the young actress.
Later, in an interview, Foster often recalled that De Niro became her real mentor.
According to her, the advice of the actor during the filming of Taxi Driver influenced
her entire acting career.
It was the second time that Robert played a taxi driver on screen.
In preparation for the role, Robert was still finishing filming in Bernardo Bertolucci’s
epic historical drama 1900.
He finished filming on a Friday, boarded a plane in Rome and flew to New York.
Previously, De Niro received a taxi driver’s license, therefore, in his spare time, the
actor took a taxi and drove around New York.
Then he returned to the set of 1900 in Rome.
It went on for a couple of weeks.
In addition, Robert spent another 15 hours a day driving a taxi for a month.
Plus, he repeatedly listened to the taped diaries of the criminal Arthur Bremer.
De Niro lost about 35 pounds to look skinny for his character, took a course in handling
weapons and studied the behavior of taxi drivers.
In addition, he visited a military base in Northern Italy and taped the conversations
of soldiers from the US Midwest, whose accents he considered suitable for the image of Travis
Critics praised the picture and especially praised the performance of De Niro, who literally
drowned in the image of his character.
Taxi Driver received numerous awards, including the Palme d’Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival
and four nominations at the 49th Academy Awards, including Best Actor for De Niro and Best
Supporting Actress for Foster.
The film was hailed as a classic, and De Niro’s scene “You talkin’ to me?”
became a mainstay of pop culture, ranking tenth on the American Film Institute’s 100
Interestingly, despite winning an Oscar for The Godfather Part II, Robert was still a
relatively unfamiliar face to the public.
The only time he was recognized on the street was when he was driving a New York taxi during
pre-production for the film.
For the role, Robert received only 35 thousand dollars, and despite the rapid growth in popularity
after winning the Oscar, he did not remake the contract and ask for more money.
Already, the second joint project of Robert and Martin became successful and brought fame
It’s amazing how they managed to find each other in life, but as Scorsese would later
say in one interview, he was very lucky to have a friend like Robert De Niro.
Inset quote: “I’m very happy to have found a collaborator like him.
We’ve been very lucky over the years and also it turned out people change over 20 or 30
We changed, and then came back together and I would call that a highly fortuitous situation.”
(Martin Scorsese) Another creepy story is connected with Taxi
Driver, which could spoil its glory.
We are talking about John Hinckley’s assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
A picture of a sociopathic taxi driver falling in love with a presidential campaign volunteer
inspired Hinckley to commit a real crime.
According to the film plot, at the end of the story, Travis unsuccessfully tried to
bring down the candidate for whom his lover worked.
Hinckley was so obsessed with the film that he repeatedly wrote actress Jodie Foster letters
describing his affection and pleading for her attention.
In an attempt to impress the actress, he shot Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel,
injuring the president, Secret Service agent and former press secretary James Brady.
However, during a 1982 trial, John Hinckley was found not guilty because of insanity.
During the same period when Robert was working as a taxi driver in preparation for filming,
he met his future wife, Diahnne Abbott.
She told De Niro that she dreamed of becoming an actress and raised her daughter by herself
from a previous marriage.
Robert invited her to work in Taxi Driver, so Diahnne had the role of a saleswoman in
a cinema, and the couple’s relationship became even closer.
Already in 1976, they got married, and in November, they had a son, Raphael De Niro.
De Niro also adopted Abbott’s daughter, Drena De Niro, who was five years old at that time.
Soon, 1900 by Bernardo Bertolucci, appeared on the screens.
An international cast took part in the film, including Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Sanda,
Francesca Bertini and others.
It told the story of two men, the landowner Alfredo Berlinghieri, played by De Niro, and
the peasant Olmo Dalcò, played by Gérard Depardieu, who witness and participate in
the political tensions between fascism and communism in the first half of the 20th century.
The original director’s version of the film was 317 minutes long, over 5 hours.
It was released in two parts in Italy, but there were difficulties in the United States.
Bertolucci refused to shorten the film by an hour and a half, which caused the picture
to change distributors.
Then, to appease studios and financiers, he made a three-and-a-half-hour version, which
was shown internationally, even though some producers wanted an even shorter film.
In particular, explicit scenes made it necessary to give the film a higher age limit.
Robert felt uncomfortable in such scenes.
Stefania Casini recalled the scene with Gérard Depardieu and De Niro:
Inset quote: “I have never had problems with modesty, I posed for nude photos, my naked
body was like a flower: a beautiful thing, not to be covered.
It was the two boys who had more problems: it is more difficult for a man to show sex,
a question of size.
But Bertolucci loved actors, he put us in a position to give our best.”
(Stefania Casini) In 1976, another picture with Robert was released.
He starred in the latest film by legendary director Elia Kazan, The Last Tycoon.
The film was based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and was about the CEO and highly
creative head of one of the biggest studios in Hollywood’s Golden Age, Monroe Stahr.
Francis died of a heart attack before he could finish the novel, and his friend and Princeton
classmate Edmund Wilson brought it to the finale.
De Niro’s set partner Robert Mitchum was stunned by Robert’s talent for staying in character
all day and nicknamed the young method actor “Kid Monroe.”
Robert lost more than 40 pounds for his role.
Elia Kazan noticed that De Niro was going to rehearse on Sundays, saying that in an
interview: Inset quote: “Bobby and I would go over
the scenes to be shot.
Bobby is more meticulous… he’s very imaginative.
He’s very precise.
He figures everything out both inside and outside.
He has good emotion.
He’s a character actor: everything he does he calculates.
In a good way, but he calculates” (Elia Kazan)
Critics gave the film mixed reviews and were only interested in De Niro’s performance.
At the same time, no matter how hard the film crew tried to make a good film, it still failed
at the box office.
Producer Sam Spiegel recalled: Inset quote: “The greatest young actor America
today is Robert De Niro, the greatest living director is Elia Kazan, and I may be the greatest
producer of all time.
How the hell could we make such a bad f*cking movie?”
(Sam Spiegel) So, after that, Robert undoubtedly went to
star in Scorsese’s new film.
So, the musical drama, New York, New York, was the only film in which he acted that year.
Liza Minnelli was his partner on the set.
The story is about jazz, New York, and a pair of musicians in love – a jazz saxophonist
and a pop singer – who fall madly in love and get married.
But due to the nature of De Niro’s character, the couple can’t stay together.
In preparation for filming, Robert learned to play the saxophone in three months to make
his performance look more authentic.
Unfortunately, his performance still had to be re-recorded, and it was entrusted to the
experienced jazz musician George Auld, who also played the role of the leader of the
Martin allowed the actors to improvise, and many of the film’s dialogues were made up
on the fly, making it really difficult to create a linear narrative during editing.
And the taxi fight scene between Liza Minnelli and De Niro got so out of control that Martin
Scorsese went to the hospital.
By the way, in one of the scenes, Martin quarreled with Robert and even left the set, so producer
Steven Prince had to finish the scene.
Probably, such a quarrel could have arisen on the project because of the romantic relationship
in which the married Minnelli and the already married Scorsese ended up, as Steven Prince
The director and actress had a common hobby – “Florida snow”.
But when their relationship ended, and the over-budgeted film flopped at the box office,
Martin sank into depression and became seriously addicted to illegal substances and alcohol.
That dark period in his career almost cost him his life, but his friend Robert De Niro
pulled him out of that state.
He came to the director with the idea to make a film about the famous Italian-American boxer,
world champion Jake LaMotta.
Producer Irwin Winkler noticed Robert walking around the set with the book Raging Bull during
filming in New York, New York.
According to him: “The book’s not great literature, but it’s got a lot of heart.”
Not surprisingly, Raging Bull was the next film that De Niro and Scorsese started working
It was also produced by Winkler.
At the same time, Robert’s career continued to develop.
He was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in New York, New York.
And in 1978, he managed to play in the military drama The Deer Hunter, about three Ukrainian-American
steelworkers whose lives were turned upside down after participating in the Vietnam War.
He shared the lead roles with Christopher Walken and John Savage, with notable John
Cazale, Meryl Streep and George Dzundza in supporting roles.
De Niro, impressed with the script and the director’s preparation, was one of the first
to sign on to the film.
In preparation for the role, he hung out with steelworkers at local bars and visited their
He also did his stunts, so the 30-foot fall into the river was filmed 15 times over two
days of shooting.
And during the helicopter stunt, its skids caught on a rope bridge, which could seriously
injure De Niro and Savage.
Robert later claimed that it was his most physically exhausting film.
Picking up extras in Thailand, it was difficult to find a local resident who could play an
The first actor was unable to slap Robert De Niro.
Fortunately, there was a Thai, Somsak Sengvilai, who particularly disliked the Americans.
Then De Niro suggested that Christopher Walken get a real slap in the face on camera without
The reaction on Walken’s face was sincere.
What can we say about the reaction of Robert himself, who did not expect a spit in the
face from Christopher Walken?
Director Michael Cimino convinced Walken to do it on camera.
Robert was shocked and enraged that he almost left the set.
The final version lasted 3 hours and was too expensive for those times.
And in post-production, there was a real production hell to meet deadlines.
In parallel with the release of the picture on the screens, heated debates began among
critics because of the final scene where the main characters gathered and sang “God Bless
The question was whether the moment was ironic, “as a critique of patriotism or a paean to
The Deer Hunter received critical and public acclaim for Cimino’s direction and performances
from the cast, particularly De Niro.
He, by the way, received his first millionth fee.
The film grossed $49 million at the box office, was nominated for nine awards at the 51st
Academy Awards, and won five of them.
Robert was so disturbed by the film’s controversy that he did not attend the Academy Awards.
He asked the Academy if he could skip the show by waiting backstage, but the Academy
refused, so De Niro simply stayed at home in New York.
The reward didn’t want to go to Robert either…
During that period, Robert came to Martin, but not just with a proposal, as a few years
ago, but insisting.
Scorsese was not a fan of sports at all and claimed that he did not like boxing or anything
related to the ball.
However, when his life and career were in big trouble, the director realized that the
ring is an allegory for everything you do in life.
And he began to relate to the history of LaMotta very personally.
After listening to a friend, Martin made one of the best films in his career.
Robert considers this role one of the most difficult for which he had to prepare.
For the role of LaMotta, De Niro spent a month learning to box in the ring.
He gained almost 60 pounds and even had three real boxing matches in Brooklyn, two of which
But in addition to his behavior in the ring, he also needed to adopt behavior outside of
it, so Robert diligently trained the Bronx accent and met Jake LaMotta and his ex-wife
Vikki LaMotta several times.
She told him many stories of her family life with Jake and showed him old movies they had
Jake LaMotta helped Robert get in shape and was his coach.
After three fights, he said that De Niro was one of the top 20 middleweight boxers of all
LaMotta and Robert established a warm relationship, and the boxer was pleased with his portrayal
in the film.
He was able to look at himself from the side and understand what a terrible person he was.
By the way, initially, this scene looked different in the script, because there was no quarrel
When Robert started yelling at his wife, a real neighbor suddenly showed up who didn’t
know about the filming and didn’t recognize De Niro.
The actor did not go out of character and played the scenes to the end.
Scorsese filmed 19 takes of the climactic moment in which LaMotta made the “I could
have been a contender…” speech from the film On The Waterfront in front of a dressing
De Niro liked the 13th take, which was more emotional, but Scorsese opted for a less expressive
Was it better?
Perhaps we will never know.
The actor’s efforts and the film itself were highly appreciated.
Critics were delighted and praised both the director’s work and the acting of the actors.
Thanks to this film, the world got to know Joe Pesci, another Italian-American with whom
Robert would work together more than once in the future.
The film received eight nominations for the Academy Awards, but the main award went to
Robert, who won the Oscar for Best Actor and also took the Golden Globe and several other
Raging Bull failed at the box office.
In the future, other collaborations between De Niro and Scorsese would do the same.
But the film became a cult and gave new fame to Robert, thanks to which many began to call
him to act even more actively.
For example, in 1981, he appeared on the screen in the genre already familiar to him – the
neo-noir crime drama True Confessions, where he played along with Robert Duvall.
He got the role of a priest who conflicts with his brother, a detective investigating
When Robert was signed to the project, he only had two weeks to lose as much of the
weight he had gained for Raging Bull as possible.
The adaptation of John Gregory Dunne’s novel of the same name, based on the Black Dahlia
murder case, was received positively.
But, it didn’t gross at the box office.
It did not frighten Robert.
For about a year, he has been looking for a comedy project that could help him expand
the range of acting roles and prove his acting talent.
Scorsese was dissatisfied after Raging Bull and wanted to make his dream project – the
film The Last Temptation of Christ.
It was a time when the director thought about becoming a Catholic priest.
Martin wanted Robert to play Jesus.
De Niro’s current religious beliefs and preferences remain under wraps due to the star’s taciturn
But as a child, he became a baptized Catholic when he went to live with his grandparents
after his parents divorced.
So he has a great opportunity to explore his Catholic origins.
However, De Niro rejected the idea:
Inset quote: “I was not interested in playing Christ.
It’s like playing Hamlet.
I just didn’t want to do it” (Robert De Niro)
So his next project was the film The King of Comedy, which the actor again decided to
make with Martin Scorsese.
De Niro was the first to bring Scorsese’s attention to the script, and the director
gave the film a New York mood and a darker tone.
In it, Robert played the struggling stand-up comedian Rupert Pupkin, who actually positioned
himself as the “king of comedy”, while the plot took up the themes of celebrity worship
and American media culture.
In preparation for filming, De Niro spent several months watching stand-up comedians
at work to understand the rhythm and timing of their performances.
He also developed the “role reversal” technique of stalking his autograph hunters, bugging
them and asking them many questions.
As Scorsese recalled, he even agreed to meet and talk with one of his old stalkers:
Inset quotes: “The guy was waiting for him with his wife, a shy suburban woman who was
rather embarrassed by the situation.
He wanted to take him to dinner at their house, a two-hour drive from New York.
After he had persuaded him to stay in Manhattan, De Niro asked him, ‘Why are you stalking me?
What do you want?’
He replied, ‘To have dinner with you, have a drink, chat.
My mom asked me to say hi.’”
(Martin Scorsese) Robert’s real-life wife, Diahnne Abbott, played
the role of his love interest in the film.
According to the director, the filming process was exhausting and affected Martin’s health.
Now, imagine what a blow it was for De Niro and Scorsese when the film failed to find
its audience and flopped at the box office, grossing only $2.5 million on a budget of
Despite critical praise, it was the biggest failure of the two friends, and they would
even put their collaboration on hold for a while.
Martin went to improve his health, and Robert went to star in Sergio Leone’s film.
In 1984, he appeared on the screen with James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern and Joe Pesci in
the epic crime film Once Upon a Time in America.
It meant to him:
Because the plot was based on the Harry Gray novel The Hoods and told about the life of
best friends from the Jewish ghetto who become famous Jewish gangsters in the New York organized
Robert played Jewish gangster David “Noodles” Aaronson and was chosen to star in the film
ten years ago during the filming of The Godfather Part II.
Robert wanted to meet face-to-face with the famous crime boss Meyer Lansky to better prepare
for the role, but he was turned down.
Nevertheless, his performance was, as always, on top, and critics praised the picture, which
was similar in timing and epic to The Godfather.
It premiered at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival to a 15-minute applause.
But in theaters, the audience did not really want to watch another gangster film, and it
failed at the box office, collecting only $5.5 million on a budget of $ 30 million.
Another box office failure of Robert that year was the romantic drama Falling in Love,
where his partner in the project was Meryl Streep.
The actors had already played together in The Deer Hunter and wanted to release some
movie or work together, something real and awkward.
As a result, they got this kind of film.
All of Robert’s projects in the mid-’80s did not pay off at the box office, and the dystopian
black comedy Brazil, which was even included in The Criterion Collection, was no exception.
Then Robert took a short break from the cinema and, in May 1986, returned to the stage of
the Longacre Theater, starring in the play Cuba and His Teddy Bear.
Obviously, he wanted to overcome that difficult period, try something new, and remain an A-list
But how to achieve all this?
TRYING THE NEW, RETURNING TO THE OLD De Niro tried to get rid of the image of a
gangster in the period drama The Mission, where he worked with Jeremy Irons.
The picture told about the life of a Jesuit missionary in South America in the eighteenth
Not all critics liked the image of the actor.
The film itself was praised, but Robert was not.
They said, “De Niro is all right here until he opens his mouth”.
Robert had two supporting roles the following year.
He first starred in a neo-noir psychological horror directed by Alan Parker, Angel Heart.
It was an adaptation of the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, starring Mickey
Initially, the role was offered to Robert, but he was obviously already tired of failed
projects and wanted to relieve himself of possible responsibility, so he asked for a
The director recalled how reluctantly he took on the project:
Inset quote: “I had been courting De Niro to play Cyphre in Angel Heart for some months
and we had met a few times — and he had continued to bombard me with questions examining
every dot and comma of my script.
I had walked him through the locations we had found, read through the screenplay sitting
on the floor of a dank, disused church in Harlem and finally he said ‘yes’.”
(Alan Parker) However, during filming, Robert gave his best
and, according to Parker, the actor was so creepy and realistic in the image of Louis
Cypher that Parker avoided him on set and allowed De Niro to direct himself.
Robert, as usual, chose the method of self-dismissal and didn’t talk to anyone on the set to stay
Because of that, Mickey Rourke, not familiar with this feature of the actor, felt that
Robert was ignoring him and held a grudge against him.
The film was the first and last time the actors worked together, and neither of them has said
kind words to each other since.
Moreover, Mickey Rourke, at any mention of Robert De Niro, remembers what kind of “asshole”
he is and denigrates him in every possible way:
Inset quote: “I don’t look up to him no more.
I look through him.”
(Mickey Rourke) After 32 years, he blamed Robert for preventing
him from getting a role in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.
But it so happened that, for some reason, Robert was constantly chosen for the role
of crime bosses and mobsters.
So, the second film in 1987 was the crime drama The Untouchables, where he portrayed
After a long time, it was the third collaboration with his long-time friend Brian De Palma and
was based on the book of the same name and similar to real events.
It was difficult for Robert’s film to fail at the box office because his project partners
were Kevin Costner, Charles Martin Smith, Andy García and Sean Connery.
Robert really wanted to be like Al Capone and tried to gain about 30 pounds of weight,
as he was concerned about the shape of his face for the role.
However, he did not have enough time to gain the necessary weight, and the actor was hung
with special lining bags.
In preparation for the role, Robert read about Capone and watched historical footage of him.
He even sought out Al Capone’s first tailors and asked them to make him identical clothes
for the film.
Interestingly, Robert insisted on making him silk underwear in the same style as Al Capone.
The producers, knowing De Niro’s reputation as a methodical actor, gave in, even though
his underwear never appeared on camera.
Of course, Robert was at his best in the film, but praise from the critics went to Sir Sean
The film paid off at the box office, grossing over $106 million, and Robert received a fee
of $3 million for his participation.
Gradually, from that moment, Robert’s financial situation began to level off.
Robert also narrated the documentary Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam that year,
after which he appeared in Martin Brest’s 1988 road action comedy Midnight Run.
Robert had the role of bounty hunter Jack Walsh, who was chasing an accountant, played
by Charles Grodin.
The film received very warm reviews from critics and was quite successful at the box office,
and Robert received another nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
Yet it was not in vain that he tried to go beyond his usual image.
Film critic Hal Hinson of The Washington Post described Robert’s metamorphosis at that moment:
Inset quote: “De Niro has reduced himself in scale here, too, and it’s a relief to see
him drop the great-actor mantle, and the theatricality.
As a result, he hasn’t seemed as fresh since Mean Streets or New York, New York.
There’s less specificity in the conception – he’s more of a type – but the actor
fits into him snugly, effortlessly, and the chance to play comedy, particularly opposite
a comic foil as ideal as Grodin, appears to have revitalized him.”
(Hal Hinson) Few films of that period, however, were not
For example, Robert played in the drama Jacknife, along with Ed Harris and Kathy Baker.
He had the role of a Vietnam War veteran suffering from PTSD who was determined to help a fellow
veteran relive dark memories.
Or, for example, in the comedy, We’re No Angels, where he worked with Sean Penn and Demi Moore.
It was strange because the actors who played the roles of runaway convicts disguised as
a pair of priests were pleased with their duet and believed that such a film could not
Interestingly, De Niro and Sean Penn have the same birthday – August 17, only with a
difference of 17 years.
The romantic drama Stanley & Iris, where Robert worked with Jane Fonda, also failed sadly.
The romantic drama unfolded in the real life of the actor.
In 1988, he and Diahnne Abbott divorced.
In this regard, Robert lacked constancy.
While still married to Abbott, he met model Toukie Smith and dated her for the next eight
At that time, Robert was in no hurry to tie the knot.
He remained in good relations with his children, who, having matured, also tried to become
Inset quote: “For my kids, I tell them, ‘If you want to be an actor or you want to
do this or that, that’s fine as long as you’re happy.
Just don’t sell yourself short,’ That’s the most I would say — push yourself a little
more and reach for what you really think it is you want to do.
Don’t be afraid.”
(Robert De Niro) However, they were not lucky with acting,
and years later, Raphael got a job in real estate in New York.
Drena, the child of two successful actors, spent several of her young years on film sets
and traveled the world with her father, filming The Godfather Part II and 1900 all over Italy.
Later, she was a model and tried to become a DJ, but still returned to acting and film.
Son Julian inherited his parents’ acting genes and made his film debut in 2016, while his
twin brother Aaron remains rather not public.
De Niro’s notable screen appearance was a new collaboration with Martin Scorsese in
the crime film Goodfellas.
After a long break from collaborating, the friends were once again creating an “epic”
about the rise and fall of mafia accomplice Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta.
It seemed that Robert already acquired mafia connections with Martin and Joe Pesci, who
also appeared in the film.
Al Pacino was also invited to star in it, but he preferred another mafia project, as
it turned out.
Robert played James Conway, based on Jimmy “The Gent” Burke, an Irish gangster and truck
To prepare for the role, he consulted the original story’s author Nicholas Pileggi,
who had research material discarded when writing the book.
De Niro called Henry Hill several times a day to ask how Burke walked, held a cigarette,
and generally did anything.
The actors improvised a lot during rehearsals, and some of those improvisations were in the
Although it did not gross a big box office, it only paid off.
In addition, Goodfellas earned a Silver Lion at the 47th Venice International Film Festival.
The Italian critics were particularly enthusiastic, and the film earned many nominations and awards
and, after a while, gained cult status.
In the same year, Robert appeared in another rather significant film in his career.
Based on the memoirs of Oliver Sacks, Awakenings, directed by Penny Marshall, follows a neurologist,
played by Robin Williams, who discovers the beneficial effects of a drug that can help
catatonic patients, one of whom is Robert De Niro’s character.
In preparation for the role, Robin Williams and Robert De Niro spent time with Oliver
Sacks in the hospital, watching him and his patients.
Robert even filmed a scene with “Lillian T.”, the only surviving patient from Sacks’
Also, an interesting incident happened during the filming of the scene with the hospital
guards and Robert.
Robin Williams swung his elbow awkwardly and broke Robert’s nose.
However, De Niro was glad of that, since his nose had already been broken long before and
after Robin’s blow, he seemed to fall into place.
The film was a box office success and received 3 Oscar nominations, including a Best Actor
nomination for De Niro.
It’s amazing how Robin Williams turned out to be without a nomination, for whom it was
one of the best roles in his career.
But we’ll talk about this better another time.
Meanwhile, De Niro’s next project was the historical drama Guilty by Suspicion by Irwin
Winkler, with whom he had already worked when he acted as a producer.
Now it was his directorial debut, in which Robert plays David Merrill, a filmmaker who
has returned to the US in an era of McCarthy repression and Hollywood blacklisting.
Robert’s friend, Martin, also played one of the roles in the film.
It received mixed reviews from critics.
Although Robert’s performance was praised by everyone, the film failed at the box office.
He then had a supporting role in the action thriller Backdraft, directed by Ron Howard.
He played Inspector Donald “Shadow” Rimgale of the Fire Investigation Department.
The film has already paid off, but there is not much to tell about the role of Robert
The actor’s third and biggest project in 1991 was Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller
Cape Fear, based on the novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald.
For the film, he had to work hard and even pay for some changes …
Oh, don’t worry.
It’s about teeth.
Robert paid his dentist $5,000 to make his teeth more like those of Max Cady, an offender
who has served 14 years.
Robert’s Max Cady accent came from an earlier role as a Southerner.
During preparation, he took script excerpts and a tape recorder to southern cities and
asked local residents to read lines on tape to listen and repeat later.
And he especially liked to repeat.
His accent gave Martin Scorsese goosebumps.
Jokingly, De Niro called Scorsese and left voice messages on Cady’s behalf.
After that, however, Robert had to pay another $20 thousand to restore his teeth, but in
any case, it was worth it.
The film grossed $182 million at the box office with a budget of just $35 million.
And Robert earned nominations for the Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Actor.
In 1992, De Niro appeared in two films.
The first was the comedy-drama Mistress, in which he played ruthless businessman Evan
And the other was the neo-noir crime drama Night and the City, directed by Irwin Winkler,
in which Robert had a role of a garrulous two-faced lawyer.
Both did not become very popular.
1993 was an important year for Robert.
He worked a lot.
For example, he appeared in the crime comedy-drama Mad Dog and Glory, along with Uma Thurman
and Bill Murray.
He played crime scene photographer Wayne Dobie, and the chemistry between him and Bill Murray
in the film was critically acclaimed – “real-life friendship spills over into this jittery,
very funny look at the male bonding experience,” they wrote.
He also played in the coming-of-age film This Boy’s Life, based on the memoirs of Tobias
His partners on the set were Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Barkin.
Robert had the role of Dwight Hanse, the stepfather of DiCaprio’s character.
The film was generally well-received, although critics felt that Leo’s young talent outshone
When De Niro saw the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio in the film, he called his friend
Martin to tell him about a kid that he should take a closer look at.
Scorsese said it was rather unexpected, as De Niro usually didn’t praise fellow actors
of this level.
Martin did not regret the acquaintance.
Well, in addition to the pictures in which De Niro played, there was also one that he
shot that year.
The coming-of-age crime film A Bronx Tale was Robert’s directorial debut and told the
story of an Italian-American boy named Calogero who, after meeting a local mob boss, is torn
between the temptations of organized crime and the values of his honest, hard-working
One of the lead roles in the film was played by Chazz Palminteri, who also wrote the script
and the original play of the same name.
It had been staged as a one-man show a few years earlier and based on Palminteri’s childhood.
At Robert’s request, Palminteri was involved in almost every aspect of the film’s production,
from casting to editing and sound mixing.
The release of Robert’s debut film was good news.
It was well-received by critics and almost went over the top at the box office.
That moment was overshadowed only by the fact that it was dedicated to Robert’s father – Robert
De Niro Sr., who died in May 1993 on his 71st birthday.
Robert found four personal diaries of his father, which he kept, filling with innermost
thoughts, for ten years, starting in 1963.
In an interview with the Observer, the actor said:
Inset quote: “I’m anxious to read them.
I’ll read them when it feels right… but at the moment that’s how I’m dealing with
(Robert De Niro) He gave them to art historians, who worked
on a book Robert De Niro, Sr.: Paintings, Drawings, and Writings: 1942-1993, which was
soon published by Rizzoli.
Robert wrote a foreword for the book.
His father was a prominent figure in the New York art world of the 1940s and 50s.
He painted landscapes, still lifes and portraits using a mix of abstract and expressionist
styles in the boldest colors.
The diaries shocked Robert.
There the father worried about his homosexuality, talked about his mental and emotional illness,
and doubted the correctness of keeping a diary.
After reading only those passages that were allocated for publication, De Niro said: “It
was sad for me to read.
He had his demons…
I was sorry.”
Robert De Niro Sr. did not discuss his worries with his son, or did so vaguely.
Father and son were proud of each other’s work, never feeling the need to put it into
They didn’t have a moment to sit down, and his father said, “I love this movie,” but
Robert knew he was proud of it.
In his notes, De Niro Sr wrote that Robert was “getting all sorts of movie and stage
My little baby-doll has grown up.”
In his life, the father did not experience the same success as the son.
In an interview, Robert said: Inset quote: “When I started doing well
in acting, I helped him.
He was very proud of me.
At the same time, part of him might have been saying, ‘I wish I had some success too’.
He always used to say to me ‘great artists are recognised many, many years after they’re
(Robert De Niro) After the successful release of his directorial
project, Robert continued to take on a variety of roles, playing Frankenstein’s monster in
the science fiction horror Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, directed by Kenneth Branagh.
The film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel is considered the most authentic and
was very successful at the box office.
In 1995, De Niro returned to the crime genre with a new epic crime film directed by Martin
His project partners were Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci.
Most of the conversations between Robert and Joe Pesci were improvised.
The actors were so used to working together that Martin Scorsese just told them where
to start, where to end, and the rest was up to them.
had the role of American Jew Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a gambling expert who monitors the Tangiers
Casino in Las Vegas at the request of the Italian-American Chicago Outfit crime family.
Compared to previous Scorsese projects in which Robert participated, the budget for
that film has grown to $50 million.
Just the costumes cost a million dollars.
Robert De Niro had 70 different costumes throughout the film, and Sharon Stone had 40!
After filming, they were both allowed to keep the costumes.
Although it looked like Robert was paid a salary in suits, it wasn’t.
In fact, this is how the creators paid off Robert instead of nominations and awards.
It is, of course, a joke, but how else to explain their absence for De Niro, when the
entire film received positive reviews from critics and was a commercial success at the
However, Robert was not up to it because the second project of that year for him was Michael
Mann’s crime thriller Heat.
He had the opportunity to finally work in the film along with his long-time friend Al
Although on the screen, they were far from friends …
They had already worked together in The Godfather Part II, but then they did not have joint
Now on the screen, there was a real confrontation between the LAPD detective, played by Pacino,
and professional criminal Neil McCauley, played by De Niro.
The actor agreed to participate in the project as soon as he received the first script.
According to him, “It was very good, very strong, had a particular feel to it, a reality
By the way, this joint scene with Pacino in a restaurant was filmed from the first take
without rehearsal for greater natural tension at the first meeting between the characters.
De Niro proposed that idea, and Pacino and director Michael Mann agreed with him.
The film was extremely successful with critics, grossed over $187 million, and became a cult
classic over time.
Not without the merit of the legendary duet.
Robert also had minor supporting roles that year in the French comedy One Hundred and
One Nights and the drama Panther.
The next notable appearance on the screen was the sports psychological thriller directed
by Tony Scott, The Fan.
De Niro had the role of deranged baseball fanatic Gil Renard.
Critics were not delighted, and it failed miserably at the box office.
Everything was not so good in the relationship between Robert and Toukie Smith.
The couple tried to have a baby, but the model had a miscarriage, after which they resorted
to the method of in vitro fertilization of a surrogate mother.
So the couple had twin boys: Julian and Aaron.
But, at that time, Robert’s feelings faded, and the couple broke up.
Robert dated for some time with 19-year-old Naomi Campbell, who, until that moment, was
Mike Tyson’s girlfriend.
Interestingly, according to her, she fell in love for the first time and did not care
that Robert was 28 years older than her.
But less than a year later, Robert became interested in another model – Stephanie Adams.
Finally, the actor chose Whitney Houston, with whom they almost got married.
However, Whitney’s parents dissuaded the singer from marrying Robert because he was as old
as her father.
Then Robert began a relationship with the French star of erotic films Charmaine Sinclair,
but after finding out that she has a connection with a gang that sells call girls, he broke
off the relationship.
Once in Paris, De Niro was interrogated for 10 hours because of her!
But back to the cinema.
The second film in 1996, the legal crime drama Sleepers, directed by Barry Levinson, rescued
There, the actor worked with Kevin Bacon, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt and others.
Interestingly, the filming process was made so that Robert De Niro never even crossed
paths with Kevin Bacon.
The film was about four boys, involved in a crime and sentenced to imprisonment, where
they are brutally treated by the guards.
De Niro played the role of the priest Bobby Carillo, the father of four boys who seek
revenge by going free.
After that, Robert appeared in the drama Marvin’s Room, where he again met on the screen with
Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio and Diane Keaton.
He played the supporting role of Dr Wallace Carter, who treated Keaton’s character.
In addition to participating in the frame, Robert also produced the film.
From that moment on, he gradually reveals himself in this role.
So, in the same year, De Niro also produced the crime comedy Faithful.
He worked on both projects together with Jane Rosenthal, with whom he had a good business
In 1997, Robert appeared in James Mangold’s crime drama Cop Land, which also starred Sylvester
Stallone, Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta.
De Niro played the role of Internal Affairs Investigator Lt. Moe Tilden, who investigated
police corruption in the city of New Jersey.
But what about love?
Robert was still undergoing a metamorphosis.
He met actress and singer Grace Hightower, whom he immediately married.
Oh, if he knew what this relationship would result in…
The same year, Robert worked on Wag the Dog.
The political satire black comedy was also produced by De Niro and Jane Rosenthal.
De Niro and Dustin Hoffman had the roles of political strategist and Hollywood producer
who fabricated a war in Albania to distract voters from a scandal involving the president.
Critics liked the film, but a chance helped it to collect a considerable amount at the
In January 1998, a month after its release, the Clinton–Lewinsky scandal dominated the
headlines, which brought the film to attention.
Last but not least that year was Robert’s supporting role in the Quentin Tarantino crime
film Jackie Brown, where he played an almost perfect character, the silent criminal accomplice
following year, Robert appeared in the eponymous adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel Great
However, he again had a supporting role.
Leading roles in Robert’s career are becoming less and less successful, such as in the action
thriller Ronin directed by John Frankenheimer.
And this even though a full-fledged ensemble of actors participated in the film – Jean
Reno, Stellan Skarsgård Sean Bean…
The film did not bring the expected profit, and Robert decided to return to the crime
So, in 1999, the mafia comedy film Analyze This was released.
Robert’s character is a mafioso who found himself in a crisis and asked for help from
a resisting psychiatrist, played by Billy Crystal.
Surprisingly for everyone, the film was a box office hit, earning $176 million, and
De Niro was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
Actually, it was the seventh time … but it’s not so important, because next year the
eighth time happened.
In the meantime, Robert played in Joel Schumacher’s crime comedy-drama Flawless.
Few people liked the picture, and it went into oblivion.
It seems that in recent years, Robert’s films have been throwing the dice – some unexpectedly
lucky, and some even more unpredictably failed.
Robert began the new millennium with several projects at once, but before we move on to
this period of life of a talented actor, we recommend you to subscribe to our channel
and click on the bell.
It will help us develop and create new videos, and you will be one of the first to learn
the most interesting facts about the lives of your favorite stars!
Subscribe, and we’ll continue.
AGELESS DE NIRO In the early 21st century, Robert appeared
in his first animated comedy, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, voicing Fearless
Leader, a dictator who hired two mobsters.
He also produced the film along with Rosenthal.
He also played Master Chief ‘Billy’ Sunday in the biographical drama Men of Honor.
Critics did not appreciate both projects, but unlike the previous one, this one paid
Finally, Robert’s first successful project in 2000 was Jay Roach’s comedy film Meet the
Parents, where he worked with Ben Stiller.
In the story, he played the father – a retired CIA operative who met his daughter’s future
The script was not originally written for De Niro, but he actively explored comedy projects
after the release of Analyze This.
Jane Rosenthal, who produced the picture, drew him into the project, and Robert immediately
became interested in it.
Moreover, it was he who came up with the idea of the famous polygraph test scene.
Ben Stiller was a little afraid to play with De Niro, given the nature of the films in
which he had previously acted.
But according to him, it was a big revelation that Robert had a wonderful sense of humor.
They got along.
Meet the Parents broke the box office, grossing over $330 million on a budget of $55.
The film’s success inspired two sequels, Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers, released in
2004 and 2010.
The second part collected even more at the box office, $522.7 million.
The third grossed only $310 million, and looking at the ratings of viewers and critics, it
seemed to be superfluous.
Robert had roles in 2001 in the failed crime thriller 15 Minutes and the heist film directed
by Frank Oz, The Score, where he played with Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando
in his final role.
It was rumored that Robert De Niro was victim to several Marlon Brando pranks during filming,
including a remote-controlled electronic whoopee cushion.
The film was positively received by critics and grossed at the box office.
Meanwhile, Robert went into producing, although he did not leave his acting career.
The production company TriBeCa Productions, which had helped create Robert’s films since
1989, gradually restructured into Tribeca Enterprises, a media company that includes
Tribeca Productions, Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca Studios, and a non-profit offshoot
of the Tribeca Film Institute.
Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal became co-founders, CEOs and executive chairmen of a company that
has grown since the September 11 attacks to help revitalize downtown Manhattan.
In 2002, De Niro
co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival with Rosenthal and Craig Hutkoff.
Since then, the event has been held annually, hundreds of thousands of people visit it,
and hundreds of feature and short films and even television projects are presented at
Robert appeared in the CBS documentary 9/11, recounting the day’s events from the perspective
of the New York City fire department.
After the disastrous buddy cop action comedy Showtime, where Robert starred with Eddie
Murphy and his daughter Drena De Niro, he appeared in City by the Sea.
The crime drama, in which Frances McDormand and James Franco acted as his partners on
the set, also failed.
Another failure was the sequel to the 1999 film, the mafia comedy Analyze That, with
Robert and Billy Crystal reprising their roles.
Critics did not appreciate it, considering it weak.
And in general, many began to lean towards the idea that De Niro’s career was on the
Proof of this was the 2004 psychological horror thriller Godsend, in which he has a supporting
The film has the worst ratings in the actor’s career – only 4% based on 138 reviews on Rotten
In the same year, Robert voiced a role in the second animation in his career, Shark
He got the opportunity to command Martin Scorsese while in the form of
Robert’s last release of that year was the drama The Bridge of San Luis Rey, based on
the novel of the same name by Thornton Wilder.
Place your bets, did the film pay off or fail?
If you chose the latter, then you are not mistaken.
The psychological thriller Hide and Seek was released in 2005.
There, Robert worked along with Dakota Fanning, having the role of Dr David Callaway leaving
town with his traumatized daughter due to a “suicidal” mother.
Critics again did not appreciate the film, but it collected a good $127 million at the
The following year, Robert turned down a role in one of Martin Scorsese’s best crime films,
The Departed, to direct his own spy thriller, The Good Shepherd, a fictional film of the
development of the CIA during its formative years.
He also had a supporting role in the film as General Bill Sullivan, based on retired
Captain William J. Donovan, best known as the head of the Office of Strategic Services
during World War II.
He is considered the founding father of the CIA.
Well, the lead roles in the film went to Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, and Alec Baldwin … There
was also a place for his friend Joe Pesci.
second directorial project of Robert De Niro had mixed reviews by critics, and commercially
could not pay off due to the production budget of $80 million.
As always, such an acting cast and quality were not cheap.
It is noteworthy that the cast of The Good Shepherd won the Silver Bear of the Berlin
International Film Festival, and the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Production
De Niro planned to make two sequels, but the project was in development for too long and,
it seems, never found an opportunity to be realized.
The actor’s only project in 2007 was Stardust by Matthew Vaughn, a romantic fantasy adventure
film based on the 1999 novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman.
In it, Robert had the minor role of Captain Shakespeare.
We should say that his image was strikingly different from what we are used to.
And it was great.
In 2008, Robert again starred alongside Al Pacino in the action thriller Righteous Kill,
where they both played the role of NYPD detectives on the hunt for a serial killer.
The friends’ reunion did not justify itself, and neither the critics nor the audience were
satisfied with the result.
After the failures of What Just Happened and Everybody’s Fine, where Robert had a leading
role, he played a supporting role in the exploitation action film Machete directed by Robert Rodriguez
and Ethan Maniquis.
And finally got some kind of reviews, and the film paid off at the box office.
It’s funny because the film could not exist.
Director Robert Rodriguez only shot it because of the popularity of the fake movie trailer
as part of the Grindhouse project, where Rodriguez and Tarantino filmed trailers and advertisements
for non-existent films before showing their new works.
And then De Niro had again failures, like the crime thriller Stone and the low-profile
Italian romantic comedy The Ages of Love, where his partner was Monica Bellucci.
Among the successful films of that time, only Limitless can be named, where Robert had a
supporting role as financial magnate Carlos “Carl” Van Loon.
The film was very successful at the box office, and a year later, Robert reappeared in the
same project along with the film’s star, Bradley Cooper.
So in 2012, they played in David O. Russell’s romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook.
Robert played the role of the father of Patrizio “Pat” Solitano Jr., a man with bipolar disorder
who is released from a psychiatric hospital and wants to mend his relationship.
This theme was especially close to Robert.
Robert’s father also had bipolar disorder, and it was probably one of the reasons why
he left the family.
Thanks to the film, Robert felt how much communication with his father he had lost.
The film received 8 Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Supporting Actor for
It grossed more than $236 million at the box office, and Robert was praised for the first
time in a long time.
In 2013, a series of failed projects continued with The Big Wedding, Killing Season, and
The Family, which at least earned at the box office.
Unexpectedly, the comedy Last Vegas was successful that year.
There, Robert worked with Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Mary Steenburgen.
In the story, three friends of retirement age go to Las Vegas to arrange a bachelor
party for their last single friend.
Shortly thereafter, he starred in Grudge Match alongside Sylvester Stallone as ageing boxers
entered the ring for one last fight.
And in the crime thriller The Bag Man.
But we want to mention another project more.
In 2014, De Niro took part in the making of an HBO documentary about his father.
This 40-minute documentary was part celebratory, part redemptive, fuelled by lost connections,
a son’s regret for things left unsaid, and a desire to right wrongs and honor his father’s
He once again became a father and a grandfather.
Back in 1998, Robert and Grace Hightower had a son, Elliot, and, a year later, they planned
to break up.
It turned out that Elliot suffers from autism.
Robert believes that an ordinary routine vaccination served as an impetus for the development of
Because of this, in 2016, De Niro advocated the inclusion of the controversial documentary
Vaxxed in the Tribeca Film Festival, which he co-founded.
He later explained: Inset quote: “I think the movie is something
that people should see.
I, as a parent with a child who has autism, am concerned.
I want to know the truth.
And I’m not anti-vaccine, I want safe vaccines.”
(Robert De Niro) Nevertheless, the couple made a lot of effort
to adapt their son to society.
The couple never filed for divorce and renewed their vows in 2004.
As a sign of that, they again organized a symbolic wedding ceremony, to which other
stars, actors and directors were invited: Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese and Ben Stiller
were among them.
After that, a prosperous period began in the couple’s family life – in December 2011, they
had a daughter Helen from a surrogate mother.
De Niro also has four grandchildren: one from his daughter Drena and three from his son
After a short break, Robert returned to the big screen in Nancy Meyers’ buddy comedy-drama,
He worked with Anne Hathaway and Rene Russo.
Robert portrayed a 70-year-old widower who became a senior intern at an online fashion
site and struck up a casual friendship with the company’s workaholic CEO.
The film, with a budget of $35 million, grossed $194.6 million at the box office.
Critics said that De Niro brought a fresh, laid-back lightness to his performance, set
off by the raw charm of Spencer Tracy.
His performance earned him a Critics Choice Movie Awards nomination for Best Actor in
It remains to add that Quentin Tarantino liked this film and was surprised that Robert was
not nominated for an Oscar for his performance.
His appearance in David O. Russell’s biographical comedy-drama Joy was also notable at that
The film told the story of self-made millionaire Joy Mangano, who built her own business empire.
Also, we should note the comedy Dirty Grandpa, where he played the role of Lieutenant Colonel
Richard “Dick” Kelly – Jason’s grandfather and David’s father, who went to Florida with
his grandson during his spring break.
In 2017, De Niro starred as Bernie Madoff in the HBO television film directed by Barry
Levinson, The Wizard of Lies.
The role earned him critical praise and a nomination for an Emmy Award for Best Actor.
Robert received two more Emmy Award nominations for appearing on several episodes of Saturday
Night Live, in the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series category, and for his work
as a producer on the acclaimed series When They See Us.
Unexpectedly, information about quarrels between spouses began to appear in the press.
In 2017, they quarreled in one of the entertainment venues in New York in front of eyewitnesses
– the reason was the excessive extravagance of the actor’s wife.
For a while, they continued to attend official events together, but this soon ended.
De Niro began to appear alone in public more and more often.
After 20 years of marriage, the couple broke up in 2018.
However, their marriage remained undissolved for a long time.
The issues of finances and property of the ex-lovers are being resolved, since, according
to the actor, Grace was wasteful in her coffee business.
Because of that, he allegedly had to act in all sorts of second-rate films in recent years.
The judge ordered Grace to receive $1 million a year and a share of the proceeds from the
sale of the $20 million home.
In turn, De Niro’s lawyer noted that Hightower spent $160,000 in cash and $215,000 in credit
cards every month in luxury stores.
On April 19, 2021, De Niro’s lawyer stated at a virtual divorce hearing that he was “working
at an unsustainable pace in order to support Hightower and pay off all his back taxes.”
Hightower’s lawyer said that since the couple filed for divorce in 2018, De Niro has unfairly
reduced the payments she agreed to.
In recent years, Robert has rarely appeared on the big screen, but in 2019 he played two
significant roles at once.
He first appeared in a supporting role as talk show host Murray Franklin on Todd Phillips’
The role paid homage to his character from The King of Comedy, Rupert Pupkin, who was
a comedian obsessed with a talk show host.
The film was highly acclaimed by critics and became extremely successful at the box office,
collecting over a billion dollars!
And the main reference of the film, according to the director, was Martin Scorsese’s Taxi
Driver, in which Robert De Niro had a lead role.
His other significant role of that year was the title role in the ninth joint film with
Scorsese, The Irishman, based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt.
The epic gangster film told the story of Frank Sheeran, a truck driver who becomes a contract
killer, linked to mobster Russell Bufalino played by Joe Pesci and prominent Teamster
Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino.
The development of the film took several years and required a lot of funding.
Netflix came to the rescue of the quartet of Italian-American friends, donating $250
million to make the film and releasing it on their service.
De Niro has been involved in the project for 12 years since he read the book:
Inset quote: “It’s a terrific book…
I read it and I said, ‘Marty, you should read this book because I think maybe this is what
we should try and do.’
We started this whole process in 2007, so it’s been a long time coming.
I’m excited to see it and to share it after all this time working on it.”
(Robert De Niro) To show De Niro’s character at different
ages, the creators resorted to visual effects and makeup.
The film used digital rejuvenation by Lucasfilm Industrial Light & Magic to take the actors
through the decades.
On The Tonight Show, the actor explained how the rejuvenation process went:
Inset quote: “We had slight dots.
They didn’t want it to get in our way.
This they did very subtly and so on, so they had references for all kinds of cameras taking
pictures and a special camera photographing us.”
(Robert De Niro) The released film was highly rated by critics,
but since it lasted 3 and a half hours, it received mixed reviews from the audience.
The commercial profit of the picture was difficult to calculate, but they said that it was Netflix’s
biggest financial failure.
In the meantime, Robert appeared in several other smaller projects – The Comeback Trail
and the completely failed David O. Russell film Amsterdam.
The film, with an ensemble cast of Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington,
Michael Shannon, Anya Taylor-Joy and more, had a lot of criticism and weak box office.
Robert’s latest film was the thriller Savage Salvation, where he played the role of Sheriff
But we really don’t want to talk about this film.
The actor also earns on advertising:
De Niro has aged noticeably.
His age is making itself visible.
But the actor does not lose his fighting spirit and continues to act and produce.
Robert does not even plan to end his career, and it is already known about his new upcoming
Soon he will appear in the adaptation of the book of the same name Killers of the Flower
Moon, performing cattleman William Hale – he will again participate in Martin Scorsese’s
new film, along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone.
Robert will also appear in the comedy About My Father.
When asked if he plans to retire, Robert replied: Inset quote: “I always say, the next thing
is grandfathers, then great-grandfathers, then great-great-great grandfathers, so who
I’ll go as long as I can.”
(Robert De Niro) Robert does not have social networks and is
not registered on Facebook – according to him, this is “just one other thing that
would complicate my life”.
Seeing people sitting at computers all day, he does not understand what they are doing
– obviously, something related to Facebook and Instagram, but he does not get along with
Not so long ago, it became known that he will play in Warner Bros. mob drama Wise Guys,
directed by Barry Levinson.
And he will also work on the six-part Netflix conspiracy thriller Zero Day and the crime
drama Bobby Meritorious for Paramount +.
He will also produce these projects.
And who knows what impact they will
the future: In case you’re wondering what else the actor
is investing in besides litigation, buying a downtown New York home, and producing films,
De Niro also co-owns the Greenwich Hotel and the hotel’s Locanda Verde restaurant.
And if that’s not enough, he also co-owns Tribeca Grill and the popular Japanese restaurant
There are more than 40 Nobu locations worldwide, and the company currently operates eight Nobu
Since 2014, he has also been the special economic representative of the small island state of
Antigua and Barbuda.
With the help of Robert, more than $250 million has been invested in the development of tourism
in the state.
During his career, De Niro has won two Oscars and a Golden Globe, and he is also a six-time
Robert was awarded and nominated eight times for the Golden Globe Award, until in 2011,
he received a special award – Cecil B. deMille Award.
In 2009, he was one of the top five winners of the Kennedy Center Honors Award, and in
2016 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 2020, Robert received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.
And we hope that this is not the whole list of awards and that it will be replenished
with the new achievements of Robert.
He repeatedly proved to everyone that if you want to become the best actor in the world,
it is enough to want it very much and move in the right direction.
He often played gangsters and dangerous criminals, but all that he managed to steal during his
career was just our hearts.
We are grateful to Robert and wish him a long life and to conquer new heights!
Thank you for watching this video until the end.
If you liked this video, we have prepared other videos about no less iconic actors.
We are sure you will find a lot of new information there that not all fans know.