Born in New York City on August 17, 1943, actor Robert De Niro left school at age 16 to study acting with Stella Adler. He then worked with many acclaimed film directors, including Brian DePalma, Elia Kazan and, most importantly, Martin Scorsese. De Niro’s role in The Godfather: Part II (1974) brought him his first Academy Award. He went on to make several other critically acclaimed films, including The Deer Hunter (1978), and scored his second Academy Award for Raging Bull (1980). In the 1990s, De Niro saw continued success with such films as Goodfellas and Analyze This. He more recently won acclaim for his work on Silver Linings Playbook (2012), garnering the seventh Oscar nod of his career.
He received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2003, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2010, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2016.
De Niro’s first major film roles were in the sports drama Bang the Drum Slowly (1973) and Scorsese’s crime film Mean Streets (1973). He earned Academy Award nominations for the psychological thrillers Taxi Driver (1976) and Cape Fear (1991), both directed by Scorsese. De Niro received additional nominations for Michael Cimino’s Vietnam war drama The Deer Hunter (1978), Penny Marshall’s drama Awakenings (1990), and David O. Russell’s romantic comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook (2012). His portrayal of gangster Jimmy Conway in Scorsese’s crime film Goodfellas (1990), and his role as Rupert Pupkin in the black comedy film The King of Comedy (1983), earned him BAFTA Award nominations
De Niro became the first actor to win an Academy Award speaking mainly a foreign language. In God Father II, he delivered several Sicilian dialects, with fever lines in English. He and Marlon Brando, who played the older Vito Corleone in the first film, are the only actors to have won Oscars for portraying the same fictional character. After working with Scorsese in Mean Streets, De Niro went on to have a successful working relationship with him in films such as Taxi Driver (1976), New York, New York (1977), Raging Bull (1980), The King of Comedy (1983), Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), and Casino (1995). They also acted together in Guilty by Suspicion (1991) and provided their voices for the animated feature Shark Tale (2004). Taxi Driver was particularly important to De Niro’s career.
His iconic performance as Travis Bickle catapulted him to stardom and forever linked his name with Bickle’s famous “You talkin’ to me?” monologue, which De Niro largely improvised.The role of Bickle earned him his first Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor. His portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull was lauded, as well as his interpretation of Max Cady in Cape Fear
De Niro has earned four nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, for his work in the musical drama New York, New York (1977), the action comedy Midnight Run (1988), the gangster comedy Analyze This (1999), and the comedy Meet the Parents (2000).
Other notable performances include roles in Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Brazil (1985), The Mission (1986), The Untouchables (1987), Heat (1995), and Casino (1995). He has directed and starred in films such as the crime drama A Bronx Tale (1993) and the spy film The Good Shepherd (2006).
De Niro’s capital ventures have included co-founding the film studio TriBeCa Productions, the Tribeca Film Festival, the restaurants Nobu and Tribeca Grill (which he co-owns with Broadway producer Stewart F. Lane), The Greenwich Hotel (located in Tribeca), and the restaurant inside the hotel, Locanda Verde (run by executive chef and co-owner Andrew Carmellini). According to the July 2010 issue of Gourmet magazine, De Niro is in negotiations with an internationally renowned chef, Natalia Jibladze, to launch an as-yet-unnamed restaurant in Manhattan under his Tribeca trademark. When in Malaysia in 2010, he dined with the Malaysian Prime Minister’s wife and was asked to open a Malay restaurant in Alor Setar, Kedah.
Acting style and legacy
De Niro having his hand- and shoe-prints placed in cement at TCL Chinese Theatre in February 2013
De Niro studied with Stella Adler, from whom he learned about the techniques of the Stanislavski system. The technique encouraged him to explore both internal and external aspects to fully realize the character being portrayed. He is praised for his commitment to roles; he gained 60 lb (27 kg) and learned how to box for his role as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull,ground his teeth down for Cape Fear, lived in Sicily for The Godfather Part II, worked as a cab driver for a few weeks for Taxi Driver,and learned to play the saxophone for New York, New York. He again put on weight for his performance as Al Capone in The Untouchables.
De Niro’s brand of acting includes employing whatever extreme tactic he feels is necessary to elicit the best performance from those with whom he is working. During the filming of The King of Comedy, he directed a slew of anti-Semitic epithets at co-star Jerry Lewis to enhance and authenticate the anger demonstrated by Lewis’ character. According to People magazine, the technique was successful, with Lewis recalling, “I forgot the cameras were there… I was going for Bobby’s throat.”
In 1998, he lobbied Congress against impeaching President Bill Clinton.
While promoting the film The Good Shepherd with co-star Matt Damon on the December 8, 2006, episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews at George Mason University, De Niro was asked whom he would like to see as President of the United States. De Niro responded, “Well, I think of two people: Hillary Clinton and Obama.” On February 4, 2008, De Niro supported Obama at a rally at the Izod Center in New Jersey before Super Tuesday.
In 2012, De Niro joined the anti-fracking campaign Artists Against Fracking
During the 2016 presidential campaign, De Niro was an outspoken critic of candidate Donald Trump, calling him “so blatantly stupid” and stating, “He wants to punch people in the face?! I’d like to punch him in the face.” This was in reference to the similar desire Trump expressed towards the DNC speakers at one of his rallies
Few of his acclaimed films as follows
Hi, Mom! (1970), dir. Brian De Palma
The Godfather Part II (1974), dir. Francis Ford Coppola
Taxi Driver (1976), dir. Martin Scorsese
Raging Bull (1980), dir. Martin Scorsese
The King of Comedy (1983), dir. Martin Scorsese
The Mission (1986), dir. Roland Joffé
The Untouchables (1986) dir. Brian De Palma
Midnight Run (1988), dir. Martin Brest
GoodFellas (1990), dir. Martin Scorsese
Heat (1995), dir. Michael Mann
Meet The Parents (2000), dir. Jay Roach