Are You Talking to Me?
"I don't like to watch my own movies - I fall asleep in my own movies." Robert De Niro
Oscar winning actor Robert De Niro received rave reviews while portraying young Vito Corleone in The Godfather: Part II (1974) and
boxer Jake La Motta in Raging Bull (1980). The actor, who is famous with his movie line, "Are you talking to me?" in Taxi Driver (1976),
later gained more recognition acting in such films as The Deerhunter (1978), The Untouchables (1987), Awakenings (1990), Goodfellas (1990),
Cape Fear (1991), and Frankenstein (1994), as well as Sleepers (1996). De Niro, who first rose to fame for portraying violent New York brute
John 'Johnny Boy' Civello in Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973), was also involved in the comedies Midnight Run (1988), Wag The Dog (1997, with Dustin Hoffman), Analyze This (1999), and Meet The Parents (2000, with Ben Stiller).
An actor since the 1960s, half Italian, half Irish De Niro was inducted into the Italian-American Hall of Fame in 2002 and was awarded a Life Achievement Award by the American Film Institute in 2003. Recently, he could be seen in the films Meet the Fockers (2004) and Hide and Seek (2005).
Off screen, the award-winning actor has been connected to several
names, including actresses Leigh Taylor-Young and Toukie Smith (also a restaurateur and TV host; sister of designer Willi Smith; gave him
twin sons) as well as supermodel Naomi Campbell. "It's important not to indicate. People don't try to show their
feelings, they try to hide them." Robert De Niro
Childhood and Family:
On August 17, 1943, Robert De Niro Jr. was born in New York to artist parents Robert De Niro Sr. (Italian, abstract expressionist, died on May 3, 1993) and Virginia Admiral (Irish, painter). When De Niro Jr. was 2 years old, his parents divorced and he was raised by his mother in New York's Greenwich Village. In his Little Italy community, pale and shy De Niro Jr. was nicknamed Bobby Milk by his friends. As a child, he spent his time reading playwrights and eventually joined a Little Italy street gang in his adolescence.
De Niro Jr., whose boyhood favorite actors included Montgomery Clift, Robert Mitchum and Marlon Brando, left high school at age 16 to hone in on his acting skills with Luther James and Lee Strasberg, as well as sign up with the Stella Adler Conservatory and American Workshop. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from the New York University in 1996.
In 1976, Robert De Niro married actress and singer Diahnne Abbott,
but they were later divorced in 1988. Nine years later, on June 17, 1997, De Niro tied the knot with Grace Hightower (former flight
attendant) and they separated in 1999. The couple renewed their wedding vows on November 20, 2004. De Niro has four sons, Elliott
(born on March 18, 1998, mother: Grace Hightower), Aaron Kendrick and Julian Henry (twins, born on October 20, 1995, mother: Toukie
Smithtwin), and Raphael (born in 1978, mother: Diahnne Abbott). He also has one adopted daughter, Dreena (model), who is Diahnne Abbott's
daughter from a previous marriage.
"The talent is in the choices." Robert De Niro Playing the cowardly lion in his school's production of The Wizard of Oz at age 10, Robert De Niro sharpened his acting skills with Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, and subsequently performed in several off-Broadway productions. He eventually landed on the big screen, playing a tiny part in the French film, Marcel Carné's drama, Trois chambres ŕ Manhattan in 1965.
In the late 1960s, De Niro started to receive major roles. He starred as a Vietnam Veteran living in Greenwich Village, Jon Rubin, in Brian De Palma's drama Greetings (1968), a role that he later reprised in its sequel, Hi, Mom! (1969). He also played lead roles in the comedy The Wedding Party (1969, shot in 1963) and in the drama The Swap (1969, a.k.a. Sam's Song, a.k.a. Line of Fire (1971)). Entering the 1970s, De Niro became Shelley Winters' drug-addicted son, Lloyd, in Roger Corman's biopic, Bloody Mama (1970) and played a member of an Italian cycling team who gets lost in New York, in an adaptation of Jimmy Breslin's novel, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971). He also teamed with George Segal in Ivan Passer's Born to Win (1971).
The next years were probably De Niro's most brilliant. It was his debut work with director Martin Scorsese in Mean Streets (1973) that helped De Niro launched his name towards recognition. He received a New York Film Critics Circle and National Society of Film Critics award for playing psychotic John 'Johnny Boy' Civello. He also earned an Oscar nomination for portraying a baseball player stricken with Hodgkin's disease, Bruce Pearson, in John D. Hancock's adaptation of Mark Harris' novel, Bang the Drum Slowly (1973, with Michael Moriarty).
De Niro took home his first Oscar in 1974, thanks to the role of young Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's big hit, Mario Puzo's novel adaptation, The Godfather Part II (alongside Al Pacino). He subsequently received critical acclaim for portraying lonely, impotent, insomniac ex-marine Travis Bickle in another Martin Scorsese's crime drama, Taxi Driver, in 1976. The role handed him a New York Film Critics Circle award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association award, and a National Society of Film Critics award for Best Actor. He also gained popularity for his movie quote, "Are you talking to me?"
De Niro continued to nab significant roles. He was cast as wealthy Alfredo, in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1976), reunited with Scorsese as saxophonist Jimmy Doyle in the musical New York, New York (1977), and was seen as 1930s movie mogul Monroe Stahr in Elia Kazan's powerful adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's last, unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon (also in 1977). De Niro was nominated for an Oscar again after portraying one of three Pennsylvania steel-town friends thrown into the Vietnam War, in Michael Cimino's classic, The Deer Hunter (1978, costarring Christopher Walken, John Savage and Meryl Streep).
In 1980, De Niro rejoined with Martin Scorsese in his adaptation of Jake LaMotta and Joseph Carter's biographical book, the Oscar-nominating drama Raging Bull. He brilliantly portrayed middleweight boxer Jake La Motta, which nabbed him a second Oscar award.
De Niro also starred in such average success films as: True Confessions (1981), The King of Comedy (1982), Falling in Love (1984), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Brazil (1985), The Mission (1986) and Angel Heart (1987). He later returned on stage, playing a drug dealer in the New York Public Theater production of Cuba and His Teddy Bear.
Reuniting with Brian De Palma in his crime drama The Untouchables (1987, opposite Oscar winners Sean Connery and Kevin Costner), his portrayal of head mobster Al Capone brought De Niro back into the spotlight. After costarring with Mickey Rourke in the screen version of William Hjortsberg's novel, the horror Angel Heart (1987), De Niro starred as a cynical ex-cop-turned-bounty-hunter in Martin Brest's blockbuster comedy, Midnight Run (1988). In the rest of the 1980s, De Niro played roles in We're No Angels, Jacknife (both in 1989), and Stanley & Iris (1990). He also set up his own production company, Tribeca Film Center, in 1989.
In the early 1990s, De Niro hit the box office again. He played gangster Jimmy Conway in Martin Scorsese's hit Goodfellas (with Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci) and became Robin Williams' experimental patient in the screen version of Oliver Sacks' true-story book, Awakenings. The latter role earned him another Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He subsequently starred in an adaptation of John D. MacDonald's novel, the hit thriller Cape Fear (1991) and was involved in such less-received films as Backdraft (1991), Guilty by Suspicion (1991), Mistress (1992), Night and the City (1992), Mad Dog and Glory (1993), and This Boy's Life (1993).
De Niro made his directional debut in 1993, with a crime drama film based on Chazz Palminteri's play, A Bronx Tale, in which he also starred. After gaining mixed reviews for portraying Kenneth Branagh's creature in his adaptation of the classic Mary Shelley tale, Frankenstein (1994), De Niro regained public praise for starring in the following films, the 1995 and 1996 films, Casino, Heat, Marvin's Room, and Sleepers. However, he was also involved in such rarely seen films as The Fan (1996), Cop Land, and Jackie Brown (both in 1997), before he caught moviegoers' attention again with the films Wag the Dog (1998, comedy), Ronin (1998, crime/action), Great Expectations (1998, romance/drama), comedy Analyze This (1999, also in its continuation, Analyze That, in 2002), and Flawless (1999, drama/comedy).
In the new millennium, De Niro played Ben Stiller's future father-in-law in Jay Roach's hit comedy, Meet The Parents (2000), a role that he reprised in its second installment; Meet the Fockers (2004). He also played characters in several other 2000 films, including Men of Honor (2000), The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000), 15 Minutes (2001), The Score (2001), City by the Sea (2002), and Showtime (2002).
De Niro has maintained star and super-stardom status in the movie scene for almost half a century. He was inducted into the Italian-American Hall of Fame in 2002 and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute in 2003. Recently, he was also was seen on the silver screen in such films as Shark Tale (2004, voice of Don Lino), Nick Hamm's Godsend (2004), The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004), and Hide and Seek (2005). De Niro is also scheduled to finish his upcoming film works; the self directed The Good Shepherd (with Matt Damon) and Jonathan Glazer's remake of a Japanese film, the mystery drama Chaos.
"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." Robert De Niro