Along with Al Pacino, De Niro is regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time. Like Pacino, De Niro made his name in gangster roles. He began his longtime collaboration with director Martin Scorsese in 1973's Mean Streets, a film about small time hoodlums in New York city.
Born in Greenwich Village, New York, De Niro's mother was a painter and poet and his Italian father a painter and sculptor. His parents split when he was three years old. Raised in the Little Italy neighbourhood of Manhattan, De Niro decided at an early age that he wanted to act. He was entranced by movies and he dropped out of high school at 16 to pursue acting at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the Lee Strasberg Actors Studio.
His first major film role was in 1974's The Godfather Part II, playing the young crime boss, Vito Corleone, a role that won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. More collaborations with Scorsese followed. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976), before winning for Best Actor for his portrayal of boxer Jake La Motta in Raging Bull (1980). He also worked with the director on New York, New York (1977), The King Of Comedy (1983), Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991) and Casino (1995).
Concerned that he might become typecast in purely mob roles, De Niro has always been keen to experiment and in the mid-1980s he began successfully branching out into comedic roles. As well as the Terry Gilliam directed Brazil in 1985 he starred in the hit action comedy Midnight Run in 1988 and Analyze This in 1999 opposite Billy Crystal in which he plays a mob boss seeking psychiatric help. 2000 comedy Meet The Parents with Ben Stiller began a successful trilogy of films.
De Niro quotes
"I didn't have a problem with rejection, because when you go into an audition, you're rejected already. There are hundreds of other actors. You're behind the eight ball when you go in there."
"Some people say, 'New York's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.' I say that about other places."
"The hardest thing about being famous is that people are always nice to you. You're in a conversation and everybody's agreeing with what you're saying—even if you say something totally crazy. You need people who can tell you what you don't want to hear."
"When I'm directing a great dramatic scene, part of me is saying, "Thank God I don't have to do that." Because I know how hard it is to act. It's the middle of the night. It's freezing. You gotta do this scene. You gotta get it up to get to that point. And yet, as a director, you've got to get the actors to that point. It's hard either way."
"There's no such thing as not being afraid."
De Niro stars in The Fan throughout March on Sony Entertainment Television