De Niro, Robert 1943–

views updated May 18 2018

De NIRO, Robert 1943–

(Robert Denero, Robert DeNiro, Robert De Niro, Jr.)


Full name, Robert De Niro, Jr.; born August 17, 1943, in New York, NY; son of Robert (an artist) and Virginia (a painter; maiden name, Admiral) De Niro; married Diahnne Abbott (an actress), 1976 (divorced, 1988); married Grace Hightower (a former flight attendant), June 17, 1997; children: (first marriage) Drena, Raphael Eugene (an actor); (second marriage) Elliott; (with Toukie Smith, an actress) Aaron Kendrick and Julian Henry (twins). Education: Studied acting with Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the American Workshop, and with Luther James.

Addresses: Agent—Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Manager— The Firm, 9465 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 600, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist—Stan Rosenfeld & Associates, 2029 Century Park East, Suite 1190, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Office—Tribeca Productions, 375 Greenwich St., 8th Floor, New York, NY 10013.

Career: Actor, director, and producer. Founder of Tribeca Productions and Tribeca Film Center, New York City, 1989; organized first Tribeca Film Festival, 2002; appeared in numerous television commercials, including AMC Ambassador automobiles, 1969, Beghelli (Italian TV), 1999, 2000, New York City tourism, 2001, and American Express, 2004; owner of restaurants, including Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Icon, Heartbeat, Pulse, and Layla in New York City, Rubicon in San Francisco, CA, and Ago in Los Angeles, CA. Sometimes credited as Robert De Niro, Jr.

Member: Screen Actors Guild, Actors' Equity Association.

Awards, Honors: New York Film Critics Award, best supporting actor, 1973, for Bang the Drum Slowly; New York Film Critics Award, best supporting actor, 1973, National Society of Film Critics Award, best supporting actor, 1974, both for Mean Streets; Academy Award, best supporting actor, 1974, Film Award nomination, best newcomer, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1976, both for The Godfather, Part II; Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, best actor, 1976, Academy Award nomination, best actor, Golden Globe Award nomination, best actor in a motion picture (drama), New York Film Critics Circle Award, best actor, National Society of Film Critics Award, best actor, Film Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1977, all for Taxi Driver; Golden Globe Award nomination, best actor in a motion picture (musical or comedy), 1978, for New York, New York; Fotogramas de Plata, best foreign movie performer, 1978; Academy Award nomination, best actor, Golden Globe Award nomination, best actor in a motion picture (drama), 1979, Film Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Marquee Award nomination, best actor, American Movie Awards, 1980, all for The Deer Hunter; Hasty Pudding Man of the Year Award, Harvard University, 1979; Academy Award, best actor, New York Film Critics Circle Award, best actor, National Board of Review Award, best actor, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, 1980, Golden Globe Award, best actor in a film or drama, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, best actor, 1981, Film Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1982, all for Raging Bull; Film Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1984, for The King of Comedy; Sant Jordi Award, best foreign actor, 1986, for Once upon a Time in America and Falling in Love; Theatre World Special Award, 1987; Saturn Award nomination, best supporting actor, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, 1988, for Angel Heart; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture, 1989, for Midnight Run; D. W. Griffith Award, best actor, 1990; New York Film Critics Circle Award, best actor, 1990, for GoodFellas and Awakenings; National Board of Review Award, best actor, Academy Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a leading role, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture (drama), 1991, all for Awakenings; Film Award nomination, best actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1991, for GoodFellas; Academy Award nomination, best actor, Golden Globe Award nomination, best actor in a drama, 1991, MTV Movie Award nominations, best kiss (with Juliette Lewis), best male performance, and best villain, 1992, all for Cape Fear; Career Golden Lion, Venice Film Festival, 1993; New York University, honorary degree, 1996; MTV Movie Award nominee, best villain, 1997, for The Fan; Screen Actors Guild Award nomination (with others), outstanding performance by a cast, Christopher Award (with others), motion pictures, 1997, both for Marvin's Room; Silver St. George, Moscow International Film Festival, 1997, for contribution to world cinema; MTV Movie Award nomination (with Natascha McElhone), best action sequence, 1999, for Ronin; Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award, San Sebastian International Film Festival, 2000; Golden Bear, Berlin Film Festival, 2000, for lifetime achievement; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, Blockbuster Entertainment Award (with Billy Crystal), favorite comedy team, American Comedy Award nomination, funniest actor in a motion picture (leading role), 2000, all for AnalyzeThis; MTV Movie Award, best line from a movie, MTV Movie Award nomination (with Ben Stiller), best on–screen team, Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination, favorite actor—comedy/romance, American Comedy Award nomination, funniest actor in a motion picture, 2001, all for Meet the Parents; Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a supporting role, 2001, for Men of Honor; Lifetime Achievement Award, Gotham Awards, 2001; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a motion picture—comedy/musical, 2001, for Meet the Parents; Bravo Lifetime Achievement Award, IFP Gotham Awards, 2001; Italian–American Hall of Fame, inductee, 2002; Life Achievement Award, American Film Institute, 2003; Theatre World Award, for Cuba and His Teddy Bear; Commander of Arts and Letters, French government.


Film Appearances:

(Uncredited) Client at diner, Trois chambres a Manhattan (also known as Three Rooms in Manhattan), 1965.

(As Robert Denero) Cecil, The Wedding Party, Ajay, 1967.

Jon Rubin, Greetings, Sigma III, 1968.

Sam Nicoletti, Sam's Song (also known as The Swap and Line of Fire), Cannon, 1969.

Lloyd Barker, Bloody Mama, American International Pictures, 1970.

Jon Rubin, Hi, Mom! (also known as Confessions of a Peeping John, Blue Manhattan, and Son of Greetings), Sigma III, 1970.

Gypsy cab driver, Jennifer on My Mind, United Artists, 1971.

Danny, Born to Win (also known as Addict and Born to Lose), United Artists, 1971.

Mario Trantino, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (also known as The Gang That Couldn't Shoot), Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1971.

Bruce Pearson, Bang the Drum Slowly, Paramount, 1973.

John "Johnny Boy" Civello, Mean Streets, Warner Bros., 1973.

Vito Corleone, The Godfather, Part II (also known as Mario Puzo's "The Godfather: Part II"), Paramount, 1974.

Bertolucci secondo il cinema (documentary; also known as The Cinema According to Bertolucci and The Making of "1900"), Bauer International, 1975.

(In archive footage) America at the Movies, Cinema 5 Distributing, 1976.

(As Robert DeNiro) Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver, Columbia, 1976.

Monroe Stahr, The Last Tycoon, Paramount, 1977.

Jimmy Doyle, New York, New York, United Artists, 1977.

Alfredo Berlinghieri, 1900 (also known as Novecento, 1900—Gewalt, Macht, Leidenschft, 1900—Kampf, Liebe, Hoffnung, and Nineteen Hundred), Paramount, 1977.

Michael Vronsky, The Deer Hunter, Warner Bros., 1978.

Jake LaMotta, Raging Bull, United Artists, 1980.

Des Spellacy, True Confessions, United Artists, 1981.

Himself, Acting: Lee Strasberg and the Actors Studio, 1981.

Rupert Pupkin, The King of Comedy, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1983.

David "Noodles" Aaronson, Once upon a Time in America (also known as C'era una volta in America), Warner Bros., 1984.

(In archive footage) Terror in the Aisles (documentary), Universal, 1984.

Frank Raftis, Falling in Love, Paramount, 1984.

Archibald "Harry" Tuttle, Brazil, Universal, 1985.

Captain Rodrigo Mendoza, The Mission, Warner Bros., 1986.

Louis Cypher, Angel Heart (also known as Aux portes de l'enfer), TriStar, 1987.

Al Capone, The Untouchables, Paramount, 1987.

Himself, Hello Actors Studio, 1987.

Jack Walsh, Midnight Run, Universal, 1988.

Joseph "Megs" Megessey, Jacknife, Cineplex Odeon, 1989.

Ned, We're No Angels, Paramount, 1989.

Stanley Cox, Stanley & Iris, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1990.

James Conway, GoodFellas (also known as Goodfellas), Warner Bros., 1990.

Leonard Lowe, Awakenings, Columbia, 1990.

Himself, Hollywood Mavericks, Roxie Releasing, 1990.

Max Cady, Cape Fear, Universal, 1991.

Donald Rimgale, Backdraft, Universal, 1991.

David Merrill, Guilty by Suspicion (also known as La liste noire), Warner Bros., 1991.

Evan M. Wright, Mistress (also known as Hollywood Mistress), Rainbow Releasing/Tribeca Productions, 1992.

Harry Fabian, Night and the City, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1992.

Dwight Hansen, This Boy's Life, Warner Bros., 1993.

Wayne "Mad Dog" Dobie, Mad Dog and Glory, Universal, 1993.

Lorenzo Anello, A Bronx Tale, Savoy Pictures, 1993.

The creature/sharp–featured man, Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" (also known as Frankenstein), TriStar, 1994.

Neil McCauley, Heat, Warner Bros., 1995.

Sam "Ace" Rothstein, Casino, Universal, 1995.

Actor for a day, One Hundred and One Nights (also known as Les cent et une nuits, Les cent et une nuits de Simon Cinema, and A Hundred and One Nights of Simon Cinema), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1995.

Gil Renard, The Fan, TriStar, 1996.

Father Bobby, Sleepers, Warner Bros., 1996.

Dr. Wally, Marvin's Room, Miramax, 1996.

Himself, 100 Years of Horror: Witchcraft and Demons (documentary), Passport Video, 1996.

Himself, 100 Years of Horror: The Frankenstein Family (documentary), Passport Video, 1996.

Lieutenant Mo Tilden, Cop Land, Miramax, 1997.

Louis Gara, Jackie Brown, Miramax, 1997.

Conrad Brean, Wag the Dog, New Line Cinema, 1998.

Arthur Lustig, Great Expectations, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1998.

Sam, Ronin, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1998.

Himself, New York City ... Come Visit the World (documentary), 1998.

Himself, Junket Whore (documentary), 1998.

Paul Vitti, Analyze This, Warner Bros., 1999.

Walter Koontz, Flawless, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1999.

Himself, Making "Taxi Driver" (documentary), Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1999.

Himself, The Book That Wrote Itself, Echelon Entertainment, 1999.

(In archive footage) Himself, Ausverkauft! (short film), 1999.

Jack Byrnes, Meet the Parents, Universal, 2000.

Fearless leader, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (also known as Die Abenteur von Rocky und Bullwinkle), Universal, 2000.

Detective Eddie Fleming, Fifteen Minutes (also known as 15 minuts Ruhm), New Line Cinema, 2000.

Master chief, senior chief, and chief Leslie W. "Billy" Sunday, Men of Honor (also known as Men of Honour), Twentieth Century–Fox, 2000.

Himself, The Making of "Cape Fear" (documentary), Universal Home Video, 2001.

Nick Wells, The Score, Paramount, 2001.

Himself, Spotlight on Location: Meet the Parents (documentary), 2001.

Detective Mitch Preston, Showtime, Warner Bros., 2002.

Vincent LaMarca, City by the Sea (also known as The Suspect), Warner Bros., 2002.

Paul Vitti, Analyze That, Warner Bros., 2002.

Himself, Jackie Brown: How It Went Down (documentary short film), Miramax Home Entertainment, 2002.

(Uncredited; in archive footage) Himself, Fahrenheit 9/11 (documentary), Lions Gate Films, 2004.

Himself, Getting Made: The Making of "GoodFellas" (documentary short film), Warner Home Video, 2004.

Richard Wells, Godsend (also known as Adam), Lions Gate Films, 2004.

Voice of Don Lino, Shark Tale (animated), DreamWorks, 2004.

Jack Byrnes, Meet the Fockers, Universal, 2004.

The archbishop, The Bridge of San Luis Rey (also known as El puente de San Luis Rey), 2004.

David Callaway, Hide and Seek, Twentieth Century–Fox, 2005.

James Wilson (older), The Good Shepard, Universal, 2005.

Film Work:

Executive producer, We're No Angels, Paramount, 1989.

(Uncredited) Producer, Cape Fear, 1991.

Producer, Thunderheart, TriStar, 1992.

Producer, Mistress (also known as Hollywood Mistress), Rainbow Releasing/Tribeca Productions, 1992.

Producer and director, A Bronx Tale, Savoy Pictures, 1993.

(Uncredited) Producer, The Night We Never Met, 1993.

Associate producer, Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" (also known as Frankenstein), TriStar, 1994.

(Uncredited) Producer, Panther, 1995.

Producer, Marvin's Room, Miramax, 1996.

Producer, Faithful, New Line Cinema/Savoy Pictures, 1996.

Producer, Wag the Dog, New Line Cinema, 1998.

Producer, Entropy, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1999.

(Uncredited) Producer, Flawless, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1999.

Producer, Meet the Parents, Universal, 2000.

Producer, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (also known as Die Abenteuer von Rocky und Bullwinkle), Universal, 2000.

(Uncredited) Director, The Score, 2001.

Producer, Prison Song, New Line Cinema, 2001.

Producer, About a Boy (also known as About a Boy oder: Der Tag der toten Ente), Universal, 2002.

Producer, Stage Beauty, Lions Gate Films, 2004.

Producer, Meet the Fockers, Universal, 2004.

Director and producer, The Good Shepherd, Universal, 2005.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Himself, Tribeca Film Festival Presents, 2003.

(In archive footage) I Love the '90s: Part Deux (documentary), VH1, 2005.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Himself, Night of 100 Stars, 1982.

The Night of 100 Stars II, ABC, 1985.

Narrator, Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (documentary; also known as Dear America), PBS, 1987.

Martin Scorsese Directs, PBS, 1990.

The New Hollywood, NBC, 1990.

Himself, The Godfather Family: A Look Inside (documentary), HBO, 1990.

Himself, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (documentary), Showtime, 1991.

Himself, Aretha Franklin: Duets, Fox, 1993.

(Uncredited; in archive footage) Himself, Fame in the Twentieth Century (documentary), BBC, PBS, and Arts and Entertainment, 1993.

Himself, True Story of Frankenstein (documentary; also known as It's Alive: The True Story of Frankenstein), 1994.

(In archive footage) Ennio Morricone (documentary), BBC, 1995.

The 25th American Film Institute Achievement Award: A Salute to Martin Scorsese, CBS, 1997.

(In archive footage) Lieutenant Moe Tilden, Venice Report (documentary), 1997.

Narrator, Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth (documentary), HBO, 1998.

Himself, Comic Relief VIII, HBO, 1998.

Hollywood Salutes Jodie Foster: An American Cinematheque Tribute, TNT, 1999.

Himself, America: A Tribute to Heroes, 2001.

Himself, The Concert for New York City, VH1, 2001.

Host, 9/11 (also known as New York: 11 septembre), CBS, 2002.

Himself, Reel Comedy: Analyze That, 2002.

(Uncredited; in archive footage) Himself, Hello, He Lied & Other Truths from the Hollywood Trenches (documentary), AMC, 2002.

Willie Nelson & Friends: Live and Kickin', USA Network, 2003.

100% NYC: A Concert Celebrating the Tribeca Film Festival, MTV and VH1, 2003.

The 2003 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: A Tribute to Robert DeNiro, USA Network, 2003.

(In archive footage) Himself, 101 Most Unforgettable SNL Moments, E! Entertainment Television, 2004.

Presenter, AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: A Tribute to Meryl Streep, USA Network, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Himself, The 53rd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1981.

Presenter, The 62nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1990.

Presenter, The 63rd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1991.

Himself, Apollo Theatre Hall of Fame, 1993.

Presenter, The 67th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1995.

Presenter, The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998.

Presenter, The 71st Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1999.

Presenter, The 2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2000.

Himself, Premio Donostia a Robert De Niro, 2000.

Himself, MTV Video Music Awards 2000, MTV, 2000.

Presenter, The 11th Annual IFP Gotham Awards, Bravo, 2001.

American Veteran Awards, History Channel, 2002.

Presenter, Tribeca Film Festival Awards, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Michell/Michael, "The Partisan," Combat!, 1967.

Himself, "Jack Nicholson fait de la photo," Cinema cinemas, 1990.

(Uncredited) Himself, Saturday Night Live, NBC, 1992, 1997, 2000.

Himself, Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 1999.

Himself, "25 Toughest Stars," Rank, E! Entertainment Television, 2002.

Himself, Leute heute, 2002.

Host, Saturday Night Live, NBC, 2002, 2004.

Himself, God kveld Norge, 2003.

Himself, Filmland, 2003.

Himself, Tinseltown TV, International Channel, 2003.

Himself, GMTV, ITV, 2004.

Himself, Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, ITV, 2004.

Also appeared in Search for Tomorrow.

Television Work; Series:

Executive producer, Tribeca, Fox, 1993.

Television Work; Miniseries:

Executive producer, Witness to the Mob, 1998.

Television Executive Producer; Pilots:

The Repair Shop, CBS, 1998.

What Just Happened, HBO, 2003.

Fully Committed, ABC, 2003.

About a Boy, Fox, 2003.

Television Work; Movies:

Executive producer, Holiday Heart, Showtime, 2000.

Stage Appearances:

(Off–Broadway debut) Boy, One Night Stands of a Noisy Passenger, Actors Playhouse, New York City, 1970.

Douglas One and Fatboy, Kool Aid, Forum Theatre, Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center, New York City, 1971.

Strange Show, 1982.

Night of 100 Stars, Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1982.

Cuba, Cuba and His Teddy Bear, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, New York City, 1986.


Video Games; Producer:

Nine, 1996.



Brode, Douglas, The Complete Films of Robert DeNiro, Citadel, 1993.

Cameron–Wilson, James, The Cinema of Robert De Niro, London Zomba, 1986.

Dougan, Andy, Untouchable: Robert De Niro, Virgin, 1996.

Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Volume 21, Gale Group, 2001.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, 4th ed., St. James Press, 2000.

McKay, Keith, Robert De Niro: The Hero behind the Masks, New English Library, 1988.

Parker, John, De Niro, Vista, 1995.

Powell, Elfreda, The Unofficial Robert De Niro, Parragon, 1996.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press, 2000.


Backstage, November 12, 1999, p. 3.

Entertainment Weekly, February 20, 1998, p. 16;

November 1, 1999, p. 85.

InStyle, May, 1998, p. 197.

Newsweek, May 17, 1999, p. 6.

New York Times, March, 1977.

People Weekly, October 12, 1998, p. 11; August 16, 1999, p. 11; September 10, 2001, p. 137; April 8, 2002, p. 20.

Sunday Times (London), April 22, 1990, p. G1.

Variety, October 25, 1999, p. 4; October 8, 2001, p. 6; June 17, 2002, p. 45.

De Niro, Robert

views updated Jun 08 2018

DE NIRO, Robert

Nationality: American. Born: New York City, 17 August 1943. Education: Attended Rhodes School, New York; High School of Music and Art, New York; studied acting with Stella Adler at the Actors Studio, New York. Family: Married the actress Diahnne Abbott, 1976 (divorced 1979), children: Drena and Raphael; twin boys with Toukie Smith. Career: Appeared in workshop and off-off-Broadway theater productions, 1960s; made film debut in The Wedding Party, 1969; worked with the Theatre Company of Boston for one season, 1969–70; appeared in his first film with director Martin Scorsese, Mean Streets, 1973; set up the TriBeCa project in New York, late 1980s; made his directorial debut with A Bronx Tale, 1993. Awards: National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor, for Mean Streets, 1973; New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor, for Bang the Drum Slowly, 1973; Best Supporting Actor

Academy Award, for The Godfather, Part II, 1974; National Society of Film Critics Best Actor, New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Actor, for Taxi Driver, 1976; Best Actor Academy Award, New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Actor, National Board of Review Best Actor, Best Motion Picture Actor-Drama Golden Globe, for Raging Bull, 1980; New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor, for Awakenings and Goodfellas, 1990; National Board of Review Best Actor (with Robin Williams), for Awakenings, 1990; Venice Film Festival Golden Lion for Career Achievement, 1993. Agent: Jay Julien, 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


The Wedding Party (De Palma) (as Cecil); Greetings (De Palma) (as Jon Rubin)


Hi, Mom! (De Palma) (as Jon Rubin); Bloody Mama (Corman) (as Lloyd Barker)


Jennifer on My Mind (Black) (as gypsy cab driver); The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (Goldstone) (as Mario); Born to Win (Passer) (as Danny)


Bang the Drum Slowly (Hancock) (as Bruce Pearson); Mean Streets (Scorsese) (as Johnny Boy)


The Godfather, Part II (Coppola) (as Vito Corleone)


Taxi Driver (Scorsese) (as Travis Bickle); Novecento (1900) (Bertolucci) (as Alfredo); The Last Tycoon (Kazan) (as Monroe Stahr)


New York, New York (Scorsese) (as Jimmy); The Deer Hunter (Cimino) (as Mike)


Raging Bull (Scorsese) (as Jake LaMotta); The Swap (Shade) (as Sammy)


True Confessions (Grosbard) (as Des Spellacy)


The King of Comedy (Scorsese) (as Rupert Pupkin)


Once Upon a Time in America (Leone) (as Noodles); Falling in Love (Grosbard) (as Frank)


Brazil (Gilliam) (as Tuttle)


The Mission (Joffe) (as Mendoza)


Angel Heart (Parker) (as Louis Cyphre); The Untouchables (De Palma) (as Al Capone); Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (Coutaurié—doc for TV)


Jacknife (David Jones) (as Joseph "Megs" Megessey); Midnight Run (Brest) (as Jack Walsh)


Stanley and Iris (Ritt) (as Stanley Cox); We're No Angels (Neil Jordan) (as Ned/Fr. Reilly, + exec pr)


GoodFellas (Scorsese) (as James Conway); Awakenings (Penny Marshall) (as Leonard Love)


Guilty by Suspicion (Irwin Winkler) (as David Merrill); Backdraft (Ron Howard) (as Donald Rimgale); Cape Fear (Scorsese) (as Max Cady)


Night and the City (Winkler) (as Harry Fabian); Mistress (Primus) (as Evan M. Wright) (+ co-pr)


This Boy's Life (Caton-Jones) (as Dwight); Mad Dog and Glory (McNaughton) (as Wayne "Mad Dog" Dobie)


Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (Branagh) (as The Creature/Sharp) (+ assoc pr)


Casino (Scorsese) (as Sam "Ace" Rothstein); Heat (Mann) (as Neil McCauley); Les Cent et une Nuits (A Hundred and One Nights) (Varda) (as Actor for a Day)


The Fan (Tony Scott) (as Gil Renard); Marvin's Room (Zaks) (as Dr. Wally) (+ pr); Sleepers (Levinson) (as Father Bobby)


Cop Land (Mangold) (as Moe Tilden); Wag the Dog (Levinson) (as Conrad Brean) (+ co-pr); Jackie Brown (Tarantino) (as Louis Gara)


Great Expectations (Cuaron) (as Arthur Lustig); Ronin (Frankenheimer) (as Sam); Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth (Weide—for TV) (doc) (as Narrator)


Analyze This (Ramis) (as Paul Vitti); Flawless (Schumacher) (as Walt Koontz)


Meet the Parents (Roach) (as Jack Byrnes); The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (McAnuff) (as Fearless Leader); Fifteen Minutes (Herzfeld) (as Eddie Flemming); Men of Honor (Tillman, Jr.) (as Billy Sunday)


The Score (Oz) (as Nick Wells)

Other Films:


Thunderheart (Apted) (co-pr)


A Bronx Tale (d, co-pr, ro as Lorenzo Anello)


By DE NIRO: articles—

"Dialogue on Film: Robert De Niro," interview in American Film (Washington, D.C.), March 1981.

Interview with Barry Paris, in American Film (Hollywood), October 1989.

Interview with Steve Grant, in Time Out (London), 22 May 1991.

"A Walk and a Talk with Robert De Niro," interview with Peter Brant and Ingrid Sischym, in Interview (New York), November 1993.

"De Niro on De Niro," in Vogue, January 1995.

Interview with M. Meens, in Film en Televisie + Video (Brussels), February 1995.

"Dark Star," interview with Garth Pearce, in Time Out (London), 18 December-1 January 1996–1997.

On DE NIRO: books—

Cameron-Wilson, James, The Cinema of Robert De Niro, London, 1986.

McKay, Keith, Robert De Niro: The Hero behind the Masks, New York, 1986.

Zurhorst, Meinolf, Robert De Niro: Seine Filme, sein Leben, Munich, 1987.

Agan, Patrick, Robert De Niro: The Man, the Myth and the Movies, London, 1989.

Scorsese, Martin, Scorsese on Scorsese, edited by Ian Christie and David Thompson, London, 1989.

Brode, Douglas, The Films of Robert De Niro, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1993.

Dougan, Andy, Untouchable: A Biography of Robert De Niro, New York, 1997.

Parker, John, De Niro, New York, 1998.

On DE NIRO: articles—

Cieutat, M., "Robert De Niro ou les contraires inséparables," in Positif (Paris), November 1977.

Harris, Mark, "Robert De Niro/Michael Moriarty: Obedience to Self," in Close-Ups: The Movie Star Book, edited by Danny Peary, New York, 1978.

Kroll, Jack, "Robert De Niro," in The Movie Star, edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.

Goldsmith, Barbara, "The Incredible Talent of Robert De Niro," in Parade, 2 December 1984.

Le Fanu, Mark, "Looking for Mr. De Niro," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1985/86.

Cooke, L., "New York, New York: Looking at De Niro," in Movie (London), no. 31/32, Winter 1986.

Pulleine, Tim, "Defining De Niro," in Films and Filming (London), October 1988.

Schruers, Fred, "Awake and Sing," in Premiere (New York), January 1991.

Current Biography 1993, New York, 1993.

Stromberg, R., "De Niros hemlighet," in Chaplin, vol. 35, no. 3, 1993.

"Courting a Monster Star in Hopes of a Monster Film," in New York Times, 28 February 1993.

Kaye, Elizabeth, "Robert De Niro," in New York Times Magazine, 14 November 1993.

Valot, Jacques & Bénoliel, Bernard, "Robert De Niro, acteurauteur," in Mensuel du Cinéma," (Paris), April 1994.

Rouchy, Marie-Élisabeth, François Gorin, and Philippe Piazzo, "Le rêve du Rital./Il était une fois le Bronx," in Télérama (Paris), 20 April 1994.

Michaels, D., "Robert De Niro," in Film en Televisie + Video (Brussels), January 1995.

Scorsese, Martin, "De Niro et moi," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), March 1996.

Steyn, M., "Raging Bulls," in The American Spectator (Arlington, Virginia), April 1998.

Falvo, P., "Straight Out of Queens," in New York, 21–28 December 1998.

* * *

Robert De Niro is nearly incapable of a thoughtless performance. Early in his career, he radiated appeal in several carefully devised, vividly realistic supporting roles, notably as the none-too-bright, fatally ill baseball player in Bang the Drum Slowly and young Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Part II, even winning an Oscar for the latter. Still, this stage of his career is best exemplified by the film in which he first gained prominence, Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, in which he plays Johnny Boy, a reckless young hood who roams—and invariably finds trouble on—the byways of New York's Little Italy.

In the tradition of Marlon Brando—who originated the role of Vito Corleone in the first Godfather film—De Niro eschews the Method approach in creating a role. Reportedly, he drove a cab before playing the title character in Taxi Driver, spent hours hitting baseballs prior to Bang the Drum Slowly, and even gained the excess poundage required for his appearance as the aging Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. His casting as the younger Vito symbolizes the passing of the mantle from one generation of Method actors to the next. Unlike Brando, however, De Niro did not dissipate his talent, ultimately showing up infrequently on-screen and mumbling his way through his roles. If anything, De Niro has been a prolific screen actor, appearing in an astonishing variety of roles both starring and supporting, and playing each with equal aplomb.

Yet De Niro's career remains most associated with that of Scorsese. In the annals of screen history, the Scorsese-De Niro union rates right alongside the collaboration of von Sternberg and Dietrich. Their director-actor relationship is even visualized on-screen in Taxi Driver, in which Scorsese, in a cameo role as a frenzied passenger in De Niro's cab, verbalizes the paranoia that motivates the De Niro character and the subsequent, violent bloodbath he will instigate.

In The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, De Niro superbly plays a classic Scorsese character: the social misfit-psychotic who is transformed into a weirdo-celebrity by a society ever willing to elevate oddballs to pop-culture status. In The King of Comedy, the actor perfectly captures the superficial and destructive amiability of Rupert Pupkin, a fame-obsessed nonentity who yearns to be a guest on a late night talk show hosted by a Johnny Carson-like celebrity. While Pupkin does have some talent as a stand-up comic, he really does not want to work at his craft. All he wants is stardom and fame. It is the idea of being a celebrity that appeals to him, not the creative work involved in honing his craft. He eventually wins that celebrity, but only after kidnapping the talk show host. In Taxi Driver, De Niro gives a now-legendary performance as Travis Bickle, an ex-Marine and pill-popping loner from some nameless spot in the Midwest who has come to New York and taken a job driving a cab. The semiarticulate Bickle is an outsider even to the prostitutes, deadbeats, and castoffs who inhabit the Manhattan terrain like rats in a ghetto hovel. There is a void in his brain; although he earnestly tries to communicate with others, he comes off with the charm and coherence of an airplane glue freak. He sets out to assassinate a presidential hopeful—which would link him to the Lee Harvey Oswalds and James Earl Rays of history—but instead kills a vicious pimp who has enslaved a 12-year-old runaway-prostitute, so he is lionized by the media.

In Raging Bull, De Niro's second Oscar-winning performance, he plays a deeply flawed character who did earn fame based on legitimate merit: real-life boxer Jake LaMotta, the Bronx Bull, who in 1949 copped the middleweight title from Marcel Cerdan. LaMotta is depicted as an inarticulate, insanely jealous man who does not use his mind and cannot control his temper. He starts out as a cocky and confident young fighter and ends up fat, punchdrunk, and pathetic, separated and alienated from the people he loves. As LaMotta, De Niro is nothing short of extraordinary. He simply chews into the role, digests it, and spits it out across the screen.

The actor's other screen characterizations for Scorsese, all of them fully realized, have placed him within the milieu of gangsters and wiseguys. In GoodFellas, he is a career hoodlum; in Cape Fear, he is a vengeful psychopath; in Casino, he is a bookie-gambler who becomes a Las Vegas casino manager, leaving the muscle to others. Another superlative criminal role came in Heat, directed by Michael Mann, in which he is a cool, disciplined gang boss who is the prey of a determined cop (Al Pacino, whose acting style and city boy charisma inexorably link him to De Niro). These parts can be contrasted to his ingratiatingly comical bounty hunter in Midnight Run; sensitive intellectual in Guilty by Suspicion; patient who awakens from a three-decades-long coma in Awakenings; and, most tellingly, his small town Ukrainian-American steelworker with a firmly rooted sense of honor and duty, who heads off to Vietnam in The DeerHunter. De Niro even has played the Frankenstein monster (in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein), adding an impressive level of depth and feeling to the character. In A Bronx Tale (playing a bus driver), Falling in Love (cast as a suburbanite), and Mad Dog and Glory (playing a cop), the actor showed that he can act average, essentially colorless, and even retiring characters with the same verve and believability as his Al Capone in The Untouchables. Only rarely does De Niro miscalculate a performance. Such a case is We're No Angels, in which he hams it up in his role as a none-too-bright escaped convict.

De Niro made his directorial debut with A Bronx Tale, expanded from Chazz Palminteri's one-character play. It is a story of the coming-of-age of a young Italian-American on the Bronx streets during the early 1960s, and his relationship to two very different men. They are Lorenzo (played by De Niro), his honest, hard-working bus driver father; and Sonny (played by Palminteri), a macho gangster who is feared by all in the neighborhood, and who thinks that working men like Lorenzo are suckers. For a young boy attempting to define his identity, Sonny is a much more appealing role model than Lorenzo. In this regard, the scenario contrasts these two characters: the flashy guy who "pulls the trigger," and the less glamorous, more anonymous man who actually is the real "tough guy" in that he gets up each morning, goes to work, and supports his family. Additionally, A Bronx Tale examines the roots and meaning of racism as it depicts the changing face of urban America. As the years pass, the turf of the Italian-American Bronx neighborhood in which the film is set is encroached upon by an African-American community. The residents of each are culturally disparate, and their mistrust of each other borders on blind hatred.

Not surprisingly, A Bronx Tale is a New York City drama which, in its best moments, seethes with the same raw emotion found in the De Niro-Scorsese collaborations. "I'm not crazy about directing myself in a film, because for me it takes the joy out of acting," De Niro declared, at the 1993 Toronto Film Festival. "But I would like to direct more movies. It takes a lot of work and energy to direct. But it's worth it, if you are able to make something that is good and special." This last sentiment also might apply to De Niro's body of work in front of the camera, which ranks among the best of any late twentieth-century American actor.

—Robin Wood

And as the century faded De Niro may not have returned to directing, but he still remained a constant and welcome presence on movie screens. His roles—starring, supporting, and cameo—still were remarkably varied, ranging from a none-too-bright ex-convict (in Jackie Brown) to a slick, cynical political operator/spin doctor (Wag the Dog); a gun-for-hire mercenary (Ronin) to a medical man with a less-than-reassuring bedside manner (Marvin's Room); the escaped convict in a modernized version of Great Expectations to an NYPD Internal Affairs officer investigating police corruption (Cop Land); a psycho/loser who stalks a major league baseball star (The Fan) to a retired security guard with a conservative world-view who establishes a bond with his next door neighbor, a drag queen (Flawless). By far his most celebrated role came in Analyze This, Harold Ramis's amusing farce. Here, De Niro deftly lampooned his tough-guy roles and Scorsese persona, cast as a fabled mobster in dire need of therapy.

—updated by Rob Edelman

Robert De Niro

views updated May 18 2018

Robert De Niro

One of the greatest American actors of his generation, Robert De Niro (born 1943) is known for his total immersion in roles. Whether driving a cab to prepare for Taxi Driver or gaining 60 pounds to play boxer Jake La Motta in Raging Bull, De Niro studies his characters intensely. The Oscar-winning actor is best known for his roles in gangster-related films such as The Godfather, Part II.

In a 1976 interview, De Niro explained his approach to preparing for a role. "Actors must expose themselves to the surroundings and keep their minds obsessed with that," he said. " … I always look at everything…. If you don't practice, you don't know your subject and it can't be natural … You've got to physically and mentally become that person you are portraying."

Bobby Milk

De Niro was born in New York City on August 17, 1943. His father, Robert De Niro Sr., was a sculptor, painter and poet. His mother, Virginia Admiral, also sold paintings. His parents had a salon in Greenwich Village that attracted other artists and intellectuals. They divorced when their son was a young child. As he approached adolescence, De Niro was shy and sickly looking. His pale complexion earned him the nickname "Bobby Milk" in the ethnic neighborhood of "Little Italy," where he grew up. His first stage role, at age ten, was as the cowardly lion in a local production of The Wizard of Oz.

At the age of 16, De Niro got his first paying role, in a production of Chekhov's The Bear . He was hooked. Dropping out of high school just a few credits short of graduation, he studied Method acting under Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. For the next 14 years De Niro performed off-Broadway, in dinner theaters, in touring productions, and occasionally in television commercials and small films.

Director Brian De Palma gave De Niro his start in films.. He cast the young New Yorker in the little-noticed, small-budget films The Wedding Party, Greetings, and Hi, Mom! In Greetings De Niro had the lead role as a draft dodger. Soon, actress Shelley Winters took him under her wing. She helped him land a part in the low-budget Roger Corman film Bloody Mama. He played one of the sons of her character, the legendary killer Ma Barker. De Niro prepared by spending weeks in the Ozark Mountains, perfecting an Arkansas dialect. De Niro next appeared in a string of poorly received films, including Jennifer on My Mind, Born to Win, and The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Though the movies were panned, some film critics started to notice his exceptional performances.

"You Talkin' to Me?"

In 1973, De Niro, who was turning 30, finally won widespread acclaim with two remarkable performances. He portrayed a dying baseball pitcher in Bang the Drum Slowly . De Niro had never played baseball and wasn't an athlete but, through constant practice, intense study of ballplayers in person and on film, and reading books about baseball, he made his performance believable. Later that year, De Niro appeared as a nervous, explosive young hoodlum in Mean Streets, the first of many collaborations with director Martin Scorcese, a contemporary who also grew up on New York's Lower East Side. The authenticity of his performance was startling. It "looked as if a rogue had come in off the streets," wrote biographer David Thomson, and the portrayal seemed "an assertion of how out of conventional control he was."

In 1974, De Niro was cast as the young Vito Corleone in Francis Coppola's blockbuster The Godfather, Part II. He prepared by studying the Sicilian dialect for weeks and by striving to capture the accent and mannerisms of Marlon Brando, who had played the older Corleone in the original Godfather. "De Niro is right to be playing the young Brando because he has the physical audacity, the grace and the instinct to become a great actor," wrote critic Pauline Kael. The breakthrough role, in which he speaks only 17 words of English, won De Niro the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

De Niro continued gaining critical acclaim with his role as the cab driver Travis Bickle in Scorcese's Taxi Driver in 1976. His Oscar-nominated portrait of a bigoted, vengeful Vietnam veteran was an iconic performance. To prepare for the role, De Niro lost 35 pounds and listened repeatedly to a taped reading of the diaries of assassin Arthur Bremer, who shot presidential candidate George Wallace in 1972. He also got a provisional cab driver's license and drove around New York for several weeks.

De Niro's gutsy, disturbing performance drove the controversial film. "The genius of the acting consists of De Niro's refusal to simplify," wrote Thomson. "He never opts for sacred monster or shaman. The long, lone sequences establish an hallucinatory confessional with the audience…" Playing with his gun and practicing his bravado in front of a mirror—a scene the actor improvised—De Niro tries out the memorable line: "You talkin' to me?" The phrase became an enduring part of the American lexicon— shorthand for a fed-up, won't-take-it-anymore attitude and a code for white male rage. "It is a picture of a man on the brink of the abyss which is both chilling and comical," wrote biographer Andy Dougan.

Disappeared into Roles

Over the next quarter-century, De Niro would become one of the most prolific and celebrated actors in Hollywood. He was known for immersing himself in his roles—so much so that for many years he often went unrecognized in public. One of De Niro's acclaimed early portrayals came in the controversial, Oscar-winning Vietnam War drama The Deer Hunter, in which he played a redneck steelworker traumatized by his combat experiences. To grow into the role, he entered the world of Ohio Valley steel mills. "I talked with the mill workers, I drank and ate with them, and I played pool with them," De Niro explained. "I tried to come as close to being a steelworker as possible. I wanted to work a shift at the mill, but they wouldn't let me." De Niro's penchant for authenticity nearly cost him his life during the filming. Shooting combat scenes in Thailand, he and co-star John Savage were almost killed while doing their own stunt work, dropping from a flying helicopter's runners into a river.

Critics were astounded by the intensity of De Niro's tight-lipped character. Thomson wrote: " The Deer Hunter would not have existed without De Niro's fierce generation of pain and honor…" De Niro was nominated for another Academy Award and might have won it were it not for overwhelming public sympathy for Peter Finch, who had starred in Network and then died before the Oscar voting.

In 1980, De Niro finally won a Best Actor award from the Academy voters for his portrayal of boxer Jake La Motta in Scorcese's Raging Bull . Before filming began, he took a year's worth of boxing lessons and spent months at the real Jake La Motta's apartment, absorbing everything he could about the man. After the film's early scenes were shot with a lean, trim De Niro, production stopped while De Niro literally grew into the part of the fighter as an older, obese man. By eating his way across France and Italy, he gained 60 pounds in two months. De Niro explained after the filming: "I just can't fake acting. I know movies are an illusion and the first rule is to fake it, but not for me. I'm too curious. I want to deal with all the facts of the character, thin or fat…. Just by having the weight on, it really made me feel a certain way and behave in a certain way…. It was a little like going to a foreign land."

The result was an intensely personal performance. "He put on not just weight, but the burden of degradation," noted Thomson. "While in the ring, he was a terrifying spectacle, as credible as any movie boxer has ever been…. In the scenes with Cathy Moriarty, and with the 'guys,' there were remarkable insights into sexual insecurity or ambivalence."

Branching Out

Once established as a star, De Niro refused to settle for sure box-office hits. Continually testing his range, he made a number of unusual role choices, including a romantic comedy with Meryl Streep, Falling in Love, which bombed with critics and at the box office. Though he is most closely associated with a gangster persona, De Niro's roles have varied widely. They include a struggling musician in the unsuccessful Scorcese musical New York, New York and an incarnation of Lucifer in Alan Parker's black comedy Angel Heart (for which De Niro grew long hair and a beard and studied the most evil men in history). He also portrayed the Frankenstein creature in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ;an unfunny would-be comedian in The King of Comedy, a drug-addicted ex-felon in Jackie Brown ; a repressed priest in True Confessions ; and a catatonic patient in Awakenings.

De Niro specialized in difficult, complex characters who represented the dark side of human nature. In 1991, he received another Oscar nomination for his role as a loathsome ex-felon in Cape Fear. Thomson wrote: "His character was so intricately nasty, so repellent, and so clever, that one wondered if the actor hadn't developed too much devil worship." After appearing as gangster Al Capone in De Palma's The Untouchables, De Niro explained: "I prefer the so-called evil because it is more realistic. Good characters or characters who are only positive tend to be unbelievable and boring."

Tedium was unlikely on film sets with De Niro. His intensity was contagious. "When De Niro walks on the set, you can feel his presence, but he never behaves like a movie star, just an actor," said Parker. "And when he acts, his sheer concentration permeates the whole set."

Italian director Sergio Leone cast De Niro as a gangster in his epic Once Upon a Time in America . After the filming was completed Leone said: "I don't consider Bob so much an actor as an incarnation of the character he is playing. Until he feels like that he can't go on the set…. No one is better than De Niro at being studied and spontaneous at the same time."

Appearing in flops and hits, De Niro remained productive and unpredictable. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as a bounty hunter in the lightweight 1989 hit Midnight Run . He returned often to his favorite director Scorcese, playing a mob character in Goodfellas and a gambler in Casino . He played a gangster in Heat and a hit man in Ronin . He spoofed his own persona as a mob boss in the comedy Analyze This and as a hard-nosed ex-intelligence agent in Meet the Parents.

Despite his fame, De Niro has remained extremely protective of his personal life and distrustful of interviewers and photographers. "I liken them to assassins," he once said. In 1976, De Niro married singer-actress Diahnne Abbott. They had a son and a daughter before divorcing. He also had twin sons, born via a surrogate mother, with actress Toukie Smith. De Niro was also romantically linked to model Naomi Campbell, singer Whitney Houston, and actress Uma Thurman. In 1997, he married flight attendant Grace Hightower.

Tribeca Film Center

Seeking new challenges, De Niro founded the Tribeca Film Center in a renovated Manhattan coffee factory in 1989. On the first two floors he opened a restaurant, the Tribeca Grill, in which he displayed his father's paintings. De Niro eventually became part-owner of several upscale New York restaurants.

From his new headquarters De Niro produced his first film, Neil Jordan's remake of We're No Angels, in which he also starred. In 1993, De Niro won critical acclaim for directing and playing opposite Chazz Palminteri in the latter's autobiographical film A Bronx Tale. Also that year, he produced a television series Tribeca, which was cancelled after seven episodes. In 1999, he produced the movie Entropy.

Throughout his career, De Niro has tested his own limits-often going to extreme limits in order to be true to his character. To De Niro, acting has always been a way of expanding horizons. More than 60 film roles in 37 years attest to his willingness to take risks. "Acting is a cheap way to do things that you would not dare to do yourself," he once explained.


Dougan, Andy, Untouchable: A Biography of Robert De Niro, Thunder's Mouth Press, 1996.

Thomson, David, A Biographical Dictionary of Film, Knopf, 1994.


Entertainment Weekly, November 1, 1999.

Esquire, December 1997.

Newsweek, May 17, 1999.


"The Robert De Niro Page,"

"Robert De Niro," All Movie Guide,

"Robert De Niro," □

De Niro, Robert

views updated May 29 2018

De Niro, Robert (1943– ) US film actor. An intense, powerful player, he first gained critical acclaim in Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973). In 1974, he won an Oscar for best supporting actor in The Godfather, Part II. Another critical triumph in Taxi Driver (1976) was followed by a nominated role in The Deer Hunter (1978). He finally won an Oscar for best actor in Raging Bull (1981). He made his directorial debut with A Bronx Tale (1993). Other films include Goodfellas (1990), Heat (1995), and Jackie Brown (1997).

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