Robert De Niro, who is thought of as one of the greatest actors of his time, was born in New York City in 1943 to two artists. He was trained at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the American Workshop. He first gained fame for his role in Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), but he gained his reputation as a volatile actor in Mean Streets (1973), which was his first film with director Martin Scorsese. In 1974 De Niro received an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in The Godfather: Part II (1974) and received Academy Award nominations for best actor in Taxi Driver (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), and Cape Fear (1991). He won the best actor award in 1980 for Raging Bull (1980). De Niro currently heads his own production company, Tribeca Film Center, and made his directorial debut in 1993 with A Bronx Tale (1993).IMDb Mini Biography By: Matt Dicker
|Grace Hightower||(17 June 1997 - present) 2 children|
|Diahnne Abbott||(28 April 1976 - 1988) (divorced) 2 children|
Often played characters that were prone to brutal violence and/or characters who were borderline psychotics.
Known for method acting techniques with his characters by heavily studying their backgrounds.
Mole on his right cheek
Often plays violently angry and yet extensively depressed men
Frequently works with Martin Scorsese.
Intense physical and mental preparation for roles
New York accent
After marrying African-American Diahnne Abbott he adopted her daughter Drena De Niro, Abbott's daughter from her previous marriage. Drena refuses to identify her biological father. He also has son Raphael De Niro with Abbott.
Had a long term relationship with African-American fashion model Toukie Smith. Smith is the sister of late fashion designer Willi Smith. They have twins sons together, twins Aaron Kendrick De Niro and Julian Henry De Niro (b. October 20, 1995). Their twins were conceived by in vitro fertilization.
He married his second wife Grace Hightower in 1997 and she gave birth to their son, Elliot De Niro on March 18, 1998. In 1999 he renewed his marriage vows to Grace at their Ulster County farm near New York's Catskill Mountains, but later in the year he filed for divorce. Their fallout continued into 2001 as a potential custody battle over their son Elliott heated up. However, the divorce was never finalized and they managed to smooth over their troubles. Their second child was born in December 2011 via surrogate.
When he was a child, he was an avid reader of playwrights.
Growing up in the Little Italy section of New York City, his nickname was "Bobby Milk" because he was so thin and as pale as milk.
Turned down the role of Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). Was considered for the role of Josh Bakin in Big (1988). Was offered but turned down the role of Sal the pizza shop owner in Do the Right Thing (1989).
Son of painter Virginia Admiral and abstract expressionist Robert De Niro Sr.. Despite being raised Presbyterian, Virginia was an atheist for most of Robert's childhood. Robert Sr was raised Catholic but was not religious in any way. After De Niro was born, his father Robert Sr came out as a homosexual male and eventually divorced Robert's mother.
He formed his production company, TriBeCa Productions, in 1989.
After being caught up in a Paris prostitution ring investigation, he, denying any involvement, vowed never to return to France again (1998).
Although he is commonly referred to as an Italian-American actor, De Niro is actually one-quarter Italian in ancestry. His father was half-Irish and half- Italian. His mother was of French, Dutch and German ancestry. He was, however, quite close to his Italian paternal grandfather, whom Robert visited frequently in Syracuse, NY when he was young. De Niro has stated that he identifies "more with [his] Italian side". Inducted into the Italian-American Hall of Fame in 2002.
He is the second actor to win an Oscar for portraying Vito Corleone. He and Marlon Brando are the only two actors to win an Oscar for playing the same character.
He first discovered his love for acting at age 10 when he portrayed The Cowardly Lion in a local production of "The Wizard of Oz." He dropped out of high school to join a gang.
Formerly held the World Record for Most Weight Gained for a Movie, in gaining over 60 pounds for his role in Raging Bull (1980). But seven years later, Vincent D'Onofrio eclipsed him in gaining 70 pounds for his role in Full Metal Jacket (1987).
Ranked #78 in Premiere's 2002 annual Power 100 List.
He organised the first Tribeca Film Festival in May 2002. He intended to revitalise the Lower Manhattan area after September 11th attacks.
Has said that Meryl Streep is his favorite actress to work with.
He was voted as the best actor of all time at FilmFour.com (2002).
British pop group Bananarama had a hit song dedicated to him called "Robert De Niro's Waiting." De Niro heard about it and arranged to meet the three girls, but they got so nervous, while waiting for him, that they got drunk before he even arrived.
Diagnosed with prostate cancer, and expected to make a full recovery (October 2003).
Spent four months learning to speak the Sicilian dialect in order to play Vito Corleone in The Godfather: Part II (1974). Nearly all the dialogue that his character spoke in the movie was in Sicilian.
When he was a child, he was an avid reader of playwrights.
According to a profile in Vanity Fair's annual Hollywood issue, is the first actor to do a method interpretation of a cartoon character as Fearless Leader in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000).
He started the whole "awards show ribbon" tradition by wearing a green ribbon on his lapel at the 1981 Academy Awards. The ribbon was in rememberance of several African-American children who were victims of a serial killer in Atlanta, Georgia in 1980-1981. The ribbon was given to him by a fan in the bleachers as he arrived; the victims' families had been wearing them for months.
In the Egyptian film El Medina (1999), the main actor Ali has a duck that he named De Niro after his favorite actor.
Was voted the Number 2 greatest movie star of all time in a Channel 4 (UK) poll, narrowly being beaten by Al Pacino.
It was tricky to make him look huge as Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein (1994) , considering that Kenneth Branagh, who played Dr. Frankenstein, is of similar height. Many of the tricks used to make humans, wizards and elves dwarf the hobbits later on for "Lord of the Rings" trilogy were also employed to make De Niro appear much bigger than his co-stars, including using very large men as body doubles for shots where only the hands and feet are seen.
He was voted the 34th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Singer P.J. Harvey refers to De Niro in a song, "Reeling," from her album '4-Track Demos".
Finley Quaye mentions him in the song "Sunday Shining", in the line "I'm a hero like Robert De Niro".
Was good friends with comedian John Belushi, who died of a drug overdose on March 5, 1982. In fact, De Niro and Robin Williams were the last stars to see Belushi alive, albeit on separate visits to Bungalow #3 of L.A.'s Chateau Marmont hotel that fateful day. De Niro visited Belushi at 3:00 am on the morning of his death, but, according to eyewitnesses, left minutes later after seeing that Belushi was ill. Less than an hour earlier, Belushi had been visited by Robin Williams, who also left straight away.
Ranked #1 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Greatest Living Actor (Gods Among Us)" list (October 2004).
At the age of 17, after leaving the movies with a friend, he unexpectedly stated that he was going to be a film actor. No one believed him until he dropped out of his senior year of high school and joined Stella Adler's acting school.
His boyhood idols among actors included Montgomery Clift, Robert Mitchum and Marlon Brando. He preferred the darker, more character-driven work of these men to the older stars of Hollywood, for whom their public persona as a star was more important than their immersion into the character.
Rarely does interviews and is known as one of the most ultra-private celebrities. He was the subject of a late 90s interview (and cover photo) for Esquire magazine. Most of the article focused on how guarded he is with his personal life, what few details are known about him, what rumors are speculated while only a minority of the article dealt with the actual interview itself. The writer noted that while the interview was ultimately agreed upon, he was given a substantial list of off-limit subjects NOT to ask De Niro about. They included: politics, religion, his family, his reported interest in fine wines, and so on.
When they met shortly before making Mean Streets (1973) De Niro and Harvey Keitel became fast friends. De Niro was from Greenwich Village in Manhattan and was taught by Stella Adler and Keitel was from the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn and was mainly mentored by Lee Strasberg. But the two guarded actors bonded and remain close to this day.
He and Martin Scorsese were brought up blocks apart in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan, but never formally met when they were young. When introduced at a party in 1972, the two came to realize that they had seen each other many times but had never spoken.
Limo drivers in Los Angeles joke about his less than generous tips by referring to him as "No Dinero".
Very good friends with fellow actor and frequent co-star, Joe Pesci.
In October 1997 he ranked #5 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. In 2005 Premiere Magazine ranked him as #38 on a list of the Greatest Movie Stars of All Time in their Stars in Our Constellation feature.
Both of his Oscar-winning performances involved Marlon Brando. His first Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor, had him playing the younger version of Brando's character Vito Corleone. His second, for Best Actor in Raging Bull (1980), he recited Brando's famous lines from On the Waterfront (1954).
Underwent surgery for prostate cancer at New York's Sloan-Kettering Hospital in December 2003. The cancer has now gone into remission.
Co-owns the Rubicon restaurant in San Francisco with Bay area residents Francis Ford Coppola and Robin Williams. Much of his father's art work adorns the walls of the business. He also owns a restaurant in West Hollywood, Ago, and co-owns several restaurants in New York, including Nobu and Layla.
Shares a birthday with friend and sometime-co-star Sean Penn.
First performer to win an Oscar (for The Godfather: Part II (1974)) for a performance in a sequel.
He is a staunch supporter of the US Democratic Party. He lobbied Congress against impeaching President Bill Clinton in 1998. He supported Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential election and supported John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election. Supported Democratic senator Barack Obama for the 2008 presidential election.
His performance as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976) is ranked #42 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
His performance as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976) is ranked #22 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
Was offered the part of Dick Tracy in Dick Tracy (1990).
Turned down the role of Tony D'Amato in Any Given Sunday (1999).
After Once Upon a Time in America (1984), director Sergio Leone planning to cast De Niro in a film he was working on about the siege of Leningrad in World War II, but that project never came about due to Leone's death in 1989.
For the role of Max Cady in Cape Fear (1991), he paid a dentist $5,000 to make his teeth look suitably bad. After filming, he paid $20,000 to have them fixed. For this film, he was tattooed with vegetable dyes, which faded after a few months.
Accidentally broke a rib of Joe Pesci in a sparring scene in Raging Bull (1980). This shot appears in the film: De Niro hits Pesci in the side, Pesci groans, and there is a quick cut to another angle.
Mentioned in 'Weird Al' Yankovic's song, "Frank's 2000 TV".
Owns residences on the east and west sides of Manhattan as well as near Marbletown, New York.
Mentioned in ZZ Top's song, "Gun Love", in the line, "Runnin' with the Wild Bunch, makin' like Robert De Niro".
Attended the star-studded opening of Dubai's lavish Atlantis Palms resort. Guests were welcomed in style with a display of one million fireworks, said to be visible from space. [November 11, 2008]
Is mentioned in Stephen Lynch's song "Vanilla Ice Cream".
As of the 5th edition of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (edited by Steven Jay Schneider), De Niro is the most represented actor, by 14 films. Included are the De Niro films Mean Streets (1973), The Godfather: Part II (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), 1900 (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Raging Bull (1980), The King of Comedy (1982), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Brazil (1985), The Untouchables (1987), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995), Heat (1995) and Meet the Parents (2000).
He based the movement of his character Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976) on that of a crab. He thought the character was indirect and tended to shift from side to side.
Was cited as one of the most promising movie personalities of 1973 in John Willis' 1974 Film Annual "Screen World" book.
Is almost perfectly imitated by St. Louis Cardinals' Shortstop, Brendan Ryan, especially during post game interviews.
He studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village in New York City.
He won an Oscar for playing Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull (1980), making him one of 13 actors to win the Award for playing a real person who was still alive at the evening of the Award ceremony (as of 2007).
First guest to appear on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (2009) (2 March 2009).
Will receive the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes in January, 2011 [November 9, 2010].
Unlike Marlon Brando, who preceded him as Don Vito Corleone, he actually has Italian ancestry in his background. He and Brando both have Dutch ancestry.
Is an only child.
Is mentioned in Billy Bragg's 1991 song "Sexuality".
President of the jury at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
The talent is in the choices.
It's important not to indicate. People don't try to show their feelings, they try to hide them.
I don't like to watch my own movies - I fall asleep in my own movies.
Don't talk it [shooting a scene] away, do it!
Some people say that drama is easy, and comedy is hard. Not true. I've been making comedies the last couple of years, and it's nice. When you make a drama, you spend all day beating a guy to death with a hammer, or what have you. Or you have to take a bite out of somebody's face. On the other hand, with a comedy, you yell at Billy Crystal for an hour, and you go home.
[interview in Chicago Sun Times, 1/8/98] I think Hollywood has a class system. The actors are like the inmates, but the truth is they're running the asylum. You've got to look at the whole studio structure. There's these guys. We call them suits. They have the power to okay a film. They're like your parents, going, "We have the money". But at the same time they say to us actors, "We love you. We can't do without you". You know, I've been around a long time. I've seen the suits run the asylum. I think I can do it as good or even better. Let me try it. That's why I have TriBeCa.
I go to Paris, I go to London, I go to Rome, and I always say, "There's no place like New York. It's the most exciting city in the world now. That's the way it is. That's it."
I've never been one of those actors who has touted myself as a fascinating human being. I had to decide early on wether I was to be an actor or a personality.
[on acting] The whole thing is for younger people who are sexy and youthful.
[on the mobster characters he often plays] The characters that I play are real. They are real so they have as much right to be portrayed as any other characters. There are other characters I have played, other than those ones that have been called stereotypes or whatever. So.
People treat me with a bit too much reverence. Look at Dustin Hoffman. I always envy the way he can speak and be smart and funny and so on. I just can't do that.
[about Al Pacino] Al, over the years we've taken roles from one another. People have tried to compare us to one another, to pit us against one another and to tear us apart personally. I've never seen the comparison frankly. I'm clearly much taller, more the leading-man type. Honestly, you just may be the finest actor of our generation - with the possible exception of me.
One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people's lives without having to pay the price.
I am part Italian, I'm not all Italian. I'm part Dutch, I'm part French, I'm part German, I'm part Irish. But my name is Italian and I probably identify more with my Italian side than with my other parts.
If there is a God he has a lot to answer for.
You'll have time to rest when you're dead.
After my first movies, I gave interviews. Then I thought, "What's so important about where I went to school, and hobbies? . . . what does any of that have to do with acting, with my own head?"
There is a mixture of anarchy and discipline in the way I work.
[in 2004] I love Italy and I have a deep tie with my Italian roots. I stand for [John Kerry]. I hope he will arrive at the White House. We need a different government to represent America. The change of presidency would be a clear and international sign to say that we are approaching again to the rest of the world. I don't want any prize that can influence this election. I stand for Kerry.
(on Taxi Driver (1976)'s infamous line) You have no idea that, years later, people in cars will recognize you on the street and shout, "You talkin' to me?" I don't remember the original script, but I don't think the line was in it. We improvised. For some reason it touched a nerve. That happens.
Some people say, "New York's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there". I say that about other places.
It's true: I spent lunchtime in a grave during the filming of Bloody Mama (1970). When you're younger, you feel that's what you need to do to help you stay in character. When you get older, you become more confident and less intense about it -- and you can achieve the same effect. You might even be able to achieve more if you take your mind off it, because you're relaxed. That's the key to it all. When you're relaxed and confident, you get good stuff.
Movies are hard work. The public doesn't see that. The critics don't see it. But they're a lot of work. A lot of work. When I'm directing a great dramatic scene, part of me is saying, "Thank God I don't have to do that". Because I know how fucking hard it is to act. It's the middle of the night. It's freezing. You gotta do this scene. You gotta get it up to get to that point. And yet, as a director, you've got to get the actors to that point. It's hard either way.
When I was a teenager, I went to the Dramatic Workshop at the New School. The school had a lot of actors under the GI Bill -- 'Rod Steiger', Harry Belafonte, the generation ahead of me. I went in there and the director said to me, "Vy do you vant to be an acteh?" I didn't know how to answer, so I didn't say anything. And he said, "To express yourself!" And I said, "Yeah, yeah, that's it. That's right."
[on witnessing the terrorist attack on New York on 9/11/2001] I left a meeting right after they hit the World Trade Center. I went to my apartment, which looks south, and I watched it out my window. I could see the line of fire across the North Tower. I had my binoculars and a video camera--though I didn't want to video it. I saw a few people jump. Then I saw the South Tower go. It was so unreal, I had to confirm it by immediately looking at the television screen. CNN was on. That was the only way to make it real. Like my son said: "It was like watching the moon fall".
The hardest thing about being famous is that people are always nice to you. You're in a conversation and everybody's agreeing with what you're saying -- even if you say something totally crazy. You need people who can tell you what you don't want to hear.
I didn't have a problem with rejection, because when you go into an audition, you're rejected already. There are hundreds of other actors. You're behind the eight ball when you go in there. At this point in my career, I don't have to deal with audition rejections. So I get my rejection from other things. My children can make me feel rejected. They can humble you pretty quick.
Money makes your life easier. If you're lucky to have it, you're lucky.
I only go to Los Angeles when I am paid for it.
Nobody has moved me from my seat yet. But, just in case, I've bought my own restaurants.
[on What Just Happened (2008)] This is as close as it gets to what it can be like to be in the middle of this stuff. The fear factor is always there--everything from losing tens of millions of dollars on a film that doesn't work to not being able to get a good table in a top restaurant because your last movie flopped.
It is good to have a few other interests [restaurants, hotels, the TriBeca Film Festival]. But my main interest has always been movies - making them, directing them, being involved. I have never lost the passion for that.
I like New York because I can still walk the streets and sit down in a bar or restaurant and observe people. If you can't properly observe, as an actor, you're finished. The impression sometimes given is that I can't leave my own home without being recognised or bothered in the street. That's just not true. I can go out, at leisure, meet people for lunch or take my kids to the park. I don't think I am glamorous enough for Hollywood.
I have lived in Los Angeles, working in Hollywood, countless times, doing movies. I am not against the place. I was not a young actor kicking around, living by the seat of my pants, desperate for work. I went by invitation, and my experiences have been good ones. But I have never chosen to live there full-time.
I've always done comedies. There were comic elements in Mean Streets (1973) and even Taxi Driver (1976). And I did The King of Comedy (1982). I've always had what I consider to be a good sense of humour. There is this image that has been built up - invented, more like - and there's me, living the life. I do not consider myself some sort of acting legend, just an actor doing his best with the material that is there at the time.
You can look into my background all you like, but I have never had problems with authority on film sets. Even if I disagree with a director, I work through it. I am also not one for regrets. I don't regret any film I've made, because there was a reason for making it at the time. If it hasn't worked out, then don't spend time worrying about why and how. Just move on to the next project.
Difficult? Me? I don't think I am difficult compared to other people. It is hard to make a movie at the best of times, so you don't want to give people a hard time. People all have their own agendas. But it is not worth acting out something from your own history to make a point on a film set. If you have a problem with, say, your father or some other father figure, why give the director a tough time?
[on Martin Scorsese] I wish I had that knowledge of movies that he has. He's like an encyclopedia. I could call him up and ask him about a certain movie, and he would know about it. He's seen everything, it's great.
(on the lengths he will go to disappear into a part) You don't just play a part. You've got to earn the right to play them.
[on Martin Scorsese] I really hope I get to do another movie with him again.
I always wanted to direct. Directing is a lot more of a commitment though, a lot more time. I like directors who do very few takes, they know what they want. As for me, I know when I have a shot, but I might want back up, and one other take. You never know. If it's about capturing a moment, you're never going to be able to go back and repeat it, you go with it. It's a tricky thing. I go through all the footage, and look at everything.
Some things you learn from just being in movies, so I see what's getting done, how it's getting done. I know what making a film is going to take, how much time. I almost don't even think about it. If I'm in a movie, I can sense if something is not quite right, if the rhythm is off.
I know it's important to give everybody as much freedom as you can so that they don't feel there are any limitations. With any mistake they could make, everything is fine. And then they're not afraid to try things or trust you when you say, "Look, let's try and go in this direction." That's very important with actors - and all other creative elements.
[on being cast in The Deer Hunter (1978)] I talked with the millworkers, drank and ate with them, played pool. I tried to become as close to being a steelworker as possible, and I would have worked a shift at the mill but they wouldn't let me.
I just can't fake acting. I know movies are an illusion, and maybe 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.
I only go to Los Angles when I'm paid for it.
[on release of restored version of The King of Comedy (1982) in 2013] I was a big fan of the script and was very excited to do it with Marty [Scorsese] and happy that we finally made it. The fact that it's been restored (hard to believe that so many years have passed) is even all the better, and I can't wait to see it on our closing night.
|The Wedding Party (1969)||$50|
|Taxi Driver (1976)||$35,000|
|The Last Tycoon (1976)||$200,000 + percentage of gross|
|Analyze This (1999)||$8,000,000|
|Meet the Parents (2000)||$13,500,000|
|The Score (2001)||$15,000,000|
|Analyze That (2002)||$20,000,000|
|Meet the Fockers (2004)||$20,000,000|
|Little Fockers (2010)||$20,000,000|
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