Robert DeNiro is an American actor and producer who is popularly known for portraying the role of the young Vito Corleone in the movie The Godfather II
, released in 1974. For his performance in the movie, DeNiro won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He has frequently collaborated with the acclaimed director Martin Scorsese
and gave one of his finest performances in Scorsese`s movie Raging Bull (1980), which also earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Some of his notable movies include Taxi Driver (1976), The Untouchables (1987), Cape Fear (1991), Casino (1995), Heat (1995), and The Machete (2010).
Apart from being an actor, DeNiro has also directed movies such as A Bronx Tale (1993) and The Good Shepherd (2006).
Robert Anthony De Niro was born to painters Robert De Niro Sr. and Virginia Admiral in Greenwich, Manhattan, USA. When DeNiro was just two years old, his father confessed to being gay and this led his parents` divorce. While the actor was raised by his mother in Greenwich Village and Little Italy areas of Manhattan, his father remained in close proximity with him - living just a few blocks away. As a result, DeNiro also spent much of his time with his father while growing up. Both his parents were against the idea of baptizing DeNiro as his father was a lapsed Catholic, while his mother was an atheist. However, while DeNiro`s parents were getting divorced, he lived with his grandparents, who secretly baptized him against his parents` wishes.
DeNiro attended multiple schools viz. PS41, a public elementary school, Elisabeth Irwin High School, High School of Music and Art, McBurney School, and eventually was enrolled at the private Rhodes Preparatory School. Owing to his pale appearance, he was nicknamed as `Bobby Milk` by his friends. Many of the kids, whom he spent time with while growing up, have remained his even till now.
The actor grew up to be a shy kid, however, he soon overcame his shyness through stage plays. DeNiro made his stage debut at the age of 10 by essaying the character of `Cowardly Lion` in the school production of The Wizard of Oz. Soon, the performing arts instilled a sense of confidence in him and he became fixated with cinema; so much so that DeNiro quit school at the age of 16 to pursue his passion for acting. He was then enrolled at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting and later at the Lee Strasberg`s Actors Studio.
In 1976, Robert De Niro married Diahnne Abbott, an American actress, and singer. The couple has a son named Raphael, who was an actor and later started working on the New York real estate. He also adopted Abbott`s daughter, Drena, from her previous relationship. However, after 12 years of marriage, the couple separated in 1988. The actor then dated the former model Toukie Smith. He also has twin sons Aaron Kendrick and Julian Henry De Niro via a surrogate mother.
The actor later married actress Grace Hightower in 1997 and the couple welcomed their son Elliot in the following year. Unfortunately, after two years of marriage, the couple split in 1999, but the divorce was never finalized. However, they renewed their wedding vows in 2004 and a surrogate daughter named Helen Grace was born via surrogacy. De Niro also has four grandchildren - three from his son Raphael, and one from his daughter Drena.
As an Actor
De Niro began his acting career at the age of 20 and bagged his maiden role in the movie The Wedding Party, in 1963. However, the movie was only released in 1969. The movie Three Rooms in Manhattan released in 1965 marks De Niro`s feature film debut. In the following years, the actor went on to star in several movies but only gained recognition for his role in the movie Bang the Drum Slowly that released in 1973. In the same year, Martin Scorsese cast him as Johnny Boy, a small-time criminal, in the movie Mean Streets. This marked the beginning of a long-time collaboration between De Niro and Scorsese; the duo later went on to work on several successful movies such as Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), and Cape Fear (1991).
After the success of Bang the Drum Slowly, De Niro was seen playing the role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola`s The Godfather II (1974), a sequel to The Godfather (1972). The actor also won his first Academy Award, for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. De Niro`s next movie, Taxi Driver (1976) also turned out to be a huge hit. Taxi Driver was the actor`s second film with Martin Scorsese and is cited by the critics to be one of the greatest movies made of all time. De Niro portrayed the character of Travis Bickle, which remains to be one of his most iconic roles. The role also earned him his first Academy Award nomination in the Best Actor category. In the same year, he was seen in the movie The Last Tycoon directed by Elia Kazan
. Although the movie received poor reviews, De Niro`s acting was praised by the critics. Kazan appreciated De Niro`s effort to gear up for the role. The actor shed almost 20 pounds for the role and would even work on Sundays. Critic Marie Brenner wrote: for De Niro, it is a role that surpasses even his brilliant and daring portrayal of Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II... his performance deserves to be compared with the very finest. De Niro`s next collaboration with Scorsese, Raging Bull (1980), went on to become an acclaimed hit. His role as boxer Jake LaMotta was lauded by the critics.
By the early 80s, De Niro had portrayed several `mob` roles and fearing that he would get typecast in such roles, he took up comedic roles in movies such as The King of Comedy (1983), Brazil (1985), and Mindnight Run (1988). A couple of years after Midnight Run was released, De Niro and Scorsese worked together in the movie Goodfellas (1990). The actor essayed the role of James Conway in the biographical crime drama that is regarded as one of the best-made movies in the crime genre. The following year the De Niro - Scorsese pair delivered another hit with the movie Cape Fear (1991). Portraying the character of the antagonist, Max Cady, De Niro was once again praised for his performance.
In 1995, De Niro teamed up with his long-time friend and fellow actor Al Pacino for the movie Heat. The duo had previously worked in the movie The Godfather II (1974), however, they did not share screen space. Much to the delight of their fans, Heat turned out to be a major hit. The duo appeared together again only a decade later in the movie Righteous Kill (2008).
The 2000s saw De Niro appear in movies such as Men of Honor (2000), The Score (2001), Meet the Fockers (2004), and Stardust
(2007). While he starred in several movies in the subsequent years, his role in the 2012 movie Silver Linings Playbook
earned him an Academy Award nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category. His 2016 releases include Dirty Grandpa and Hands of Stone
. In 2019, he played the role of Murray Franklin in Todd Philip`s Joker
As A Director
In 1993 De Niro made his directorial debut with the movie A Bronx Tale which is written by Chazz Palminteri
. De Niro only decided to work on the movie after he saw Palminteri`s Off-Broadway play. The movie turned out to be a critical success. However, it was only after more than a decade later, in 2006, that De Niro directed the movie The Good Shepherd. Along with him, the movie starred Matt Damon
and Angelina Jolie
in lead roles. The movie received mixed reviews and couldn`t make a mark at the box office.