The Goodfellas, The Irishman, Ronin, and Taxi Driver films all have one thing in common: Robert De Niro. As far as legendary actors go, Robert De Niro is up there with the crème de la crème of Hollywood’s greats. Throughout his filmmaking career, Robert has teamed up with brilliant minds like Martin Scorsese, Roger Corman, and Brian De Palma to create some of the best movies of the 20th and 21st centuries. The filmmaker has won numerous awards, including two Academy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for his contributions to the industry. This piece highlights some thrilling Robert De Niro facts to make your day.

1. Robert De Niro Was Denied Italian Citizenship Because of His Mafia Roles

In 2004, Robert De Niro was about to be awarded an honorary Italian citizenship. However, the Order of Sons of Italy, a US-based group, opposed this move, claiming that Robert had tarnished the public image of Italy by playing mafia roles. De Niro defended himself, claiming that his roles are real and deserve to be portrayed in film for public viewing.

2. He is One of Hollywood’s Most Senior Dads

Robert De Niro had his 7th child at 79 years old, making him one of the most senior dads in Hollywood, alongside Al Pacino, who had a kid when he was 83.

3. Robert De Niro’s Taxi Driver Influenced John Hinckley to Assassinate President Reagan

Taxi Driver film depicts Robert De Niro’s character as an ex-marine fed up with the country’s crime and corruption. So, he decided to take matters into his own hands and assassinate a senator. John Hinckley was inspired by this film and shot President Reagan to impress Jodie Foster, whom he was stalking. Taxi Driver’s screenwriter admits that Hinckley reached out to him before the assassination attempt.

4. De Niro Prepared for the Taxi Driver Film by Actually Working as a Taxi Driver

During the pre-production stages of Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro applied for a valid taxi driver’s license. Whenever he was free, he worked as a taxi driver all over New York, doing so for several weeks.

5. He Spent $25,000 on His Teeth for the Movie Cape Fear

To blend into his menacing role in Cape Fear, Robert De Niro paid $5,000 to his dentist to have his teeth sharpened and appear deformed. Later on, after the filming, he spent another $20,000 to restore his teeth to their original condition. De Niro was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film.

6. Robert De Niro’s Mother was an Atheist

Even though his grandparents baptized De Niro into the Catholic Church, his mother was an atheist. She grew up as a Presbyterian and later on turned into an atheist. Robert’s dad remained a catholic and was a famous painter whose works can be found in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

7. He Saved Martin Scorsese from Cocaine Addiction

When De Niro visited Martin Scorsese, another famous filmmaker, in hospital, he asked him whether he wanted to live or die. And if he wanted to live, he should pour his heart into making the film Raging Bull. Thinking that this was the last movie he would make, Scorsese gave it his all, and fortunately enough, the Raging Bull turned out to be among the greatest films of the 1980s, winning numerous awards.

8. Robert De Niro Asked for Live Bullets in the Film The Deer Hunter

Robert De Niro is well known for going far and beyond in his films. Well, in The Deer Hunter, he requested live bullets. The actor then turned to John Cazale, subjecting him to an unexpected game of Russian roulette. Cazale was so afraid that he rechecked the gun before each take.

9. He Was With John Belushi Before Overdosing

It has been reported that John Belushi was with Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, and an unknown drug dealer on March 5, 1982, the night John Belushi died of an overdose. The three had visited Belushi at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles on the day.

10. De Niro Dropped Out of High School at Age 16

While attending Rhodes Preparatory School, Robert De Niro discovered that performing helped ease his shyness. So, at only 16 years old, he dropped out of high school to pursue his passion for cinema. He later enrolled in acting lessons at HB Studio.

11. Robert De Niro was Nicknamed Bobby Milk

Because of his pale and “strange” appearance, Robert De Niro was nicknamed Bobby Milk in his youth.

12. He Had a Huge Crush on Cybill Shepherd

Cybill Shepherd was Robert’s co-star in Taxi Driver film, released in 1976. Interestingly, Robert had a massive crush on her and even asked her out, but she declined his advances. This made the legendary actor so mad that he decided not to talk to her unless they were on set.

13. Robert De Niro Revealed that His Son Elliot Has Autism

In 2016, Robert De Niro revealed that his son, Elliot, was autistic. He also mentioned that he and Elliot’s mother were highly supportive and committed to helping their son manage his special condition.

14. He is a Quarter-Italian

Looking at Robert De Niro’s films, you will be excused for thinking he is 100% Italian. However, he is not; he is Quarter Italian. His father is half-Irish and half-Italian. On the other hand, his mother has German, French, Irish, Dutch and English ancestry.

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Last Update: February 28, 2024