With over 100 films to his credit in a career spanning three decades, this 75-year-old legend is still at it! He has 3 movies in the pipeline and miles to go before he sleeps. On the occasion of his 75th Birthday, Sony Le PLEX HD is paying a tribute to this legend by airing some of his most popular movies such as Analyse This, Analyse That, Wag the Dog, Showtime and 15 minutes all day long on August 17. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about your favourite actor but hey, we have got you covered!
1. His childhood nickname was Bobby Milk
Playing crime bosses in the likes of The Godfather Part II and The Untouchables has given Robert De Niro a fearsome on-screen cred, but he didn’t have quite the same menacing reputation in his younger days. As a child, Robert De Niro was often referred to by kids in the neighbourhood as ‘Bobby Milk’, because he was as pale as milk and really thin.
2. He and Martin Scorsese knew each other as kids
While they were growing up, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese – who went on to make one of the greatest actor-director partnerships in cinema history – lived just streets apart. They were never actually introduced until 1972 at a house party, just before they began making films together, though they’d seen each other around the block plenty of times as kids.
3. He gained so much weight for Raging Bull, he developed serious health issues
Robert De Niro’s commitment as a method actor is legendary. However, for what’s perhaps his most famous role, as boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull, his dedication reached new life-threatening heights. Having trained for years in the ring to get himself into fighting shape for the first leg of filming, Robert De Niro then quickly gained 66 pounds to transform himself into the older, overweight LaMotta. This led to him having respiratory problems, his breathing becoming such an issue that Martin endeavoured to get through the second half of the shoot as quickly as possible.
4. He disfigured himself to play Max Cady in Cape Fear
In one of his last efforts practising the true method style, Robert De Niro went all-out. To play sociopathic killer Max Cady in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear, he completely transformed, not just his speech and body, but his pearly whites as well. Robert De Niro paid his dentist $5,000 to make his teeth appear as bad as he possibly could. Once the movie was complete, he paid another $20,000 to have his teeth restored.
5. He’s the reason Leonardo DiCaprio is a star
Back when Leonardo was just a teenager, Robert De Niro personally chose him to feature alongside him in the film This Boy’s Life, giving him his first starring role. Robert De Niro then recommended Leonardo to Martin Scorsese, who went on to make him his new regular star and muse.
6. His daughter has co-starred in nine of his films
You might not know it, considering she’s not a famous face like her old man, but Robert De Niro’s daughter Drena, whom he adopted with first wife Diahnne Abbott, has appeared on-screen alongside her father not once, but nine times. Eagle-eyed viewers would spot Drena De Niro in the likes of The Intern, Joy and more.
7. A successful restaurateur
Nobu, TriBeCa Grill, Rubicon, Ago are all owned or co-owned by Robert De Niro. In fact, the artwork at Rubicon restaurant belong to his father who was an expressionist painter. The next time you are in the vicinity of these restaurants, do check them out!
8. From $35,000 to $20 million
Robert De Niro was paid $35,ooo for his Oscar performance in Taxi Driver in 1976. Three decades later, for his role in Little Fockers in 2010, he got $20 million!
9. He’s one of a handful of people to be given the Medal of Freedom for acting
Robert De Niro has been showered with awards and tributes throughout his career, but the real highlight may have come in 2016, when he, famously a Democrat, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the then President Barack Obama. This is the highest award a US head of state can give to a civilian.
10. He’s one of only two actors to win an Oscar for playing the same character
Back before the release of The Godfather Part II, the idea that anyone would have equalled the titanic Marlon Brando – who won an Oscar for his part in The Godfather in the role of mafia boss Vito Corleone would have seemed absurd. Robert De Niro, however, was more than a match for Marlon Brando, in playing the young Vito for Part II. He too won an Oscar for his turn in the role, making him, along with Marlon, one of only two actors to win an Oscar for playing the same character.