The words ‘iconic’ and ‘legendary’ are words quite often overused when describing celebrities, actors and musicians. When talking about Robert de Niro however, these words are very apt indeed. To celebrate his latest movie, crime thriller The Carrier, we take a look at some little known trivia that you might not know about this screen great…
1. At the age of 17, after leaving the movies with a friend, he unexpectedly stated that he was going to be a film actor. No one believed him until he dropped out of his senior year of high school and joined Stella Adler’s acting school..
2. De Niro and his directoral partner Martin Scorsese were brought up a few roads apart in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan but never met when they were young. When introduced at a party in 1972, they came to realise that they had seen each other many times but never spoken.
3. De Niro gets his perfectionism from his father. Robert De Niro Sr was an acclaimed Expressionist painter who studied his subjects in depth and repainted canvases hundreds of times.
4. When they met shortly before making Mean Streets (1973) De Niro and Harvey Keitel became good friends. De Niro was from Greenwich Village in Manhattan and was taught by Stella Adler and Keitel was from the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn and was mainly mentored by Lee Strasberg. But the two guarded actors bonded and remain close to this day.
5. He was also good friends with comedian John Belushi, who died of a drug overdose in 1982. In fact, De Niro and Robin Williams were the last stars to see Belushi alive, albeit on separate visits to L.A.’s Chateau Marmont Hotel that sad day.
6. De Niro owns several restaurants, but his favourite is TriBeCa Grill in New York, frequently patronised by the man himself and decorated with his father’s paintings.
7. Movies turned down by De Niro include In The Line Of Fire (John Malkovich’s villain), The Departed (Martin Sheen’s cop), The Last Temptation Of Christ (Willem Dafoe’s Jesus), Do The Right Thing (Danny Aiello’s pizza-seller), Any Given Sunday (Al Pacino’s coach), Big (Tom Hanks’ adult), Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty’s lead), Home Alone (Joe Pesci’s burglar) and Misery (James Caan’s writer).
8. De Niro has four sons by three women. He married actress Diahnne Abbott (Taxi Driver, New York New York, The King Of Comedy) dated African-America model Toukie Smith and is currently hitched to ex-flight-attendant turned socialite Grace Hightower (who pops up as a social worker in Precious).
9. Grinding down his teeth (Cape Fear), working as a New York cabbie (Taxi Driver), learning the saxophone (New York, New York), eating ice cream and spaghetti to bulk on 60lbs (Raging Bull)… De Niro’s Method Madness is legendary. But he lost the World Record for ‘Most weight gained for a movie’ to Vincent D’Onofrio, who flabbed on 70lbs for Full Metal Jacket.
10. Since his 1968 debut in Brian De Palma’s Greetings, there have been only five years when De Niro hasn’t released a movie. He’s now in his early 70s and shows no signs of slowing down.
The Carrier is out now on Digital HD and on DVD & VOD from August 3rd, 2015.