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Robert De Niro
Also known as: Robert De Niro Jr., Robert Mario De Niro Jr., Bobby Milk, Robato De Niro, Bob
Actor • Director • Producer • Executive Producer
Born: August 17, 1943 in New York City, New York, United States Of America
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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).

Early Life
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.

Personal Life
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.

Movie Career
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 (2019).

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.

Peers & More
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Actor
Jonathan Freeman
Actor
Al Pacino
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Christopher Walken
Actor
Dustin Hoffman
Actor
Family
Grace Hightower
Ex-Spouse
Diahnne Abbott
Ex-Spouse
Elliot De Niro
Son
Helen Grace De Niro
Daughter
Raphael De Niro
Son
Drena De Niro
Daughter
Virginia Admiral
Mother
Robert De Niro Sr.
Father
Popular Movies
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The Comeback Trail
Fockers Trilogy
The Godfather Trilogy
The War with Grandpa
Artemis Fowl
Joker Re-Release
The Irishman: In Conversation
The Irishman
Joker (English)
Bohemian Rhapsody

Did You Know? (11)

  • Robert De Niro initially held the World Record for gaining over 60 pounds for his role in the movie Raging Bull (1980). This was surpassed by Vincent D`Onofrio, who gained 70 pounds for his role in the movie Full Metal Jacket (1987).
  • Robert De Niro had auditioned for the roles of Sonny Corleone, Michael Corleone, Carlo Rizzi, and Paulie Gatto for the movie The Godfather. However, he was later cast for the role of young Vito Corleone.
  • Robert De Niro is the first actor to receive an Academy Award for a role which had the character speaking majorly in a foreign language, Sicilian dialect, and not English.
  • Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando achieved the feat of receiving an Academy Award for essaying the same fictional character, Vito Corleone, in the movie The Godfather and The Godfather II respectively.
  • Robert De Niro was offered the role of Mitch Leary in the movie In the Line of Fire (1993). However, due to scheduling conflicts, the actor declined the role.
  • Robert De Niro turned down a role in the movie Departed (2006) as he was committed to work on his directorial, The Good Shepherd (2006).
  • Robert De Niro was reportedly diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2003. In the month of December, the same year, he underwent a surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
  • Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese lived blocks apart when they were young. However, the both never met at the time and were only introduced to each other at a party in 1972, when they realized that they had seen each other but had never spoken.
  • For his role as Max Cady in the movie Cape Fear, Robert De Niro paid $ 5000 to a dentist to make his teeth look suitably bad. Later, after the filming was completed he paid $ 20000 to get his teeth fixed.
  • Robert De Niro was considered for the role of Harry in the movie Home Alone (1990). The role eventually went to his good friend Joe Pesci.
  • In several old episodes of Inside Actors Studio, a young Bradley Cooper (an Actors Studio student at the time) can be seen raising questions to seasoned actors like Sean Penn and Robert De Niro.
  • Personal Quotes (18)

  • "I don't like to watch my own movies - I fall asleep in my own movies."
  • "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."
  • "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 TriBeC"
  • "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 whether I was to be an actor or a personality."
  • "One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people's lives without having to pay the price."
  • "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?""
  • "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."
  • "You learned the two greatest thing in life, never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut. "
  • "Italy has changed. But Rome is Rome. "
  • "If it's the right chair, it doesn't take too long to get comfortable in it. "
  • "I love to find new people. It's not for the sake of their being new; it's because if you find someone who perfectly fits a part, that's such a great thing. "
  • "I'll work with a director if I think I'm going to get into a comfortable situation, and if it's someone I respect and who respects me, even if they're not so well known. Movies are hard to make, and you have to work toward a common ethic and do your best. "
  • "Time goes on. So whatever you're going to do, do it. Do it now. Don't wait. "
  • "It's important not to indicate. People don't try to show their feelings, they try to hide them. "
  • "If it's a very emotional scene, you're kind of relieved when you've done it, kind of spent. And there are times when you can be rattled, certain characters if they're hyper, that can carry over, the residue of that. But I try to leave it on the set. "
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