On 17 August City Connect celebrates the birthday of acclaimed American actor, producer and director Robert De Niro who was born on this day back in 1943. Robert De Niro has been nominated for the Academy Awards (Oscars) and BAFTAs several times in his acting career and has won two Academy Awards to date: an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The Godfather: Part II (1974) and an Oscar for Best Actor in Raging Bull (1980). In recent times, Robert De Niro has taken on occasional roles in comedies such as Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers which have allowed audiences to see a softer, more humourous side to this actor and thus Robert De Niro has avoided being typecast in mob roles. Robert De Niro is a firm believer in Method Acting and has gone to great lengths in the name of roles he has portrayed – for example, De Niro gained 60 pounds and learnt how to box for his role as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.
Robert De Niro was born in New York City on 17 August 1943. His first major film role was in 1973’s Bang the Drum Slowly. In 1974, he played the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, a role that won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
His critically acclaimed, longtime collaboration with Martin Scorsese began with 1973’s Mean Streets, and earned De Niro an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for his roles in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) and Cape Fear (1991). In addition, he received nominations for his acting in Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978) and Penny Marshall’s Awakenings (1990). Also in 1990, his portrayal as Jimmy Conway in Scorsese’s Goodfellas earned him a BAFTA nomination.
He has earned four nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy: New York, New York (1977), Midnight Run (1988), Analyze This (1999) and Meet the Parents (2000).
De Niro directed A Bronx Tale (1993) and The Good Shepherd (2006).
Praised for his commitment to roles, stemming from his background in method acting, De Niro gained 60 pounds (27 kg) and learned how to box for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull; ground his teeth 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 (1987).
De Niro’s brand of method 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, for example, he directed a slew of anti-Semitic epithets at co-star Jerry Lewis in order to enhance and authenticate the anger demonstrated by his onscreen character. According to People magazine, the technique was successful. Lewis recalled, “I forgot the cameras were there… I was going for Bobby’s throat.”
Fearing he had become typecast in mob roles, De Niro began expanding into occasional comedic roles in the mid-1980s and has had much success there as well, with such films as Brazil (1985), the hit action-comedy Midnight Run (1988), Analyze This (1999) opposite actor/comedian Billy Crystal, Meet the Parents (2000) and Meet the Fockers (2004), both opposite Ben Stiller.
In 1993, De Niro made his directorial debut with A Bronx Tale. The film, written by Chazz Palminteri, was about Palminteri’s turbulent childhood in the Bronx. De Niro agreed to direct the film after seeing Palminteri’s one-man off-Broadway play. De Niro also played Lorenzo, the bus driver who struggles to keep his son away from local mobster Sonny, played by Palminteri.
De Niro did not direct another film until 2006’s The Good Shepherd, which starred Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. The Good Shepherd depicts the origins of the CIA, with Damon portraying one of the top counter-intelligence agents during World War II and the Cold War. De Niro has a small role as General Bill Donovan, who recruits Damon’s character into the world of counter-intelligence.
De Niro, who lives in New York City, has been investing in the TriBeCa neighborhood in lower Manhattan since 1989. He also has residences on the east and west sides of Manhattan and an estate in Marbletown in upstate New York. His capital ventures have included: cofounding the film studio TriBeCa Productions; the popular Tribeca Film Festival; Nobu and TriBeCa Grill, which he co-owns with a developer Paul Wallace and Broadway producer Stewart F. Lane, The Greenwich Hotel, located in Tribeca, and the restaurant inside the hotel, Locanda Verde, formally known as Ago, which is run by executive chef and co-owner, Andrew Carmellini.
De Niro is a supporter of the Democratic Party, and vocally supported Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. De Niro publicly supported John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. In 1998, he lobbied Congress against impeaching President Bill Clinton. On February 4, 2008, De Niro supported Obama at a rally at the Izod Center in New Jersey before Super Tuesday.
In 2011, De Niro appeared in the action film The Killer Elite with Jason Statham and Clive Owen, and in Limitless, the film adaptation of the novel The Dark Fields, with Bradley Cooper, directed by Neil Burger and in New Year’s Eve, the romantic comedy film directed by Garry Marshall. Thirty-four years after Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900, De Niro will star in one of three episodes of the film Manuale d’amore 3, with Monica Bellucci, directed by Italian director Giovanni Veronesi. De Niro is attached to star in the upcoming project The Irishman, that will be directed by Martin Scorsese and co-starred by Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. In January 2011, CBS picked up De Niro’s crime pilot, Rookies. Also in 2011, De Niro was the President of the Jury for the 64th Cannes Film Festival.
In 2012, he stars in the movies The Silver Linings Playbook, Freelancers, Red Lights and in Being Flynn.
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