Incomparable actor Robert De Niro (1943-) was born on this day in New York City, left school at 16 for acting, and studied with legendary method acting mentors Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg.
"I don't like to watch my own movies," De Niro once admitted, "I fall asleep."
If he falls asleep, he's the only one. His powerful performances, on the edge of danger and unpredictability, mesmerize and consistently force moviegoers to look into their souls.
As the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather II (1974), De Niro spent months learning to speak Sicilian and won his first Oscar. An equally astonishing portrayal of a Green Beret soldier at the edge of pain and honor in The Deer Hunter (w/Meryl Streep, 1978) followed.
He hooked up with director Martin Scorsese for the disturbing role of deranged Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976), with the unforgettable line De Niro ad-libbed, "Are you talkin' to me?"
More Scorcese masterpieces with Raging Bull (1980)--he gained 50 pounds as boxer Jake LaMotta--and won another Academy Award. He played a gangster again in Goodfellas (1990) and jolted with his performance in Casino (1995).
"The talent is in the choices," he explained.
In 1989, he formed his production company, TriBeCa Film Center and tried film directing, too. Today with over 50 films to his credit, De Niro still resists giving interviews, continues to immerse himself in his roles, and even owns a coupla restaurants.
More Film-Making Quotations
Anarchy + discipline = genius.