Cast as the young Vito Corleone in the 1974 film The Godfather Part II, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Robert De Niro, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors, turns 76 today.
Known for his unending association with the famed director Martin Scorsese, he has done memorable films with him, such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Cape Fear. In a career spanning five decades, he has been part of numerous memorable films across genres, including The Untouchables, Casino, The Deer Hunter and Awakenings.
Notably, De Niro, and Marlon Brando, who played the older Vito Corleone in the initial Godfather films, are the only actors to have won Oscars for portraying the same fictional character on screen.
De Niro is set to reunite with Martin Scorsese for the Netflix film The Irishman, which is based on Charles Brandt’s book I Know You Paint Houses.
On the iconic actor’s birthday today, we look at seven of his best films:
The Godfather Part II (1974): The second film in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather trilogy, it starred Al Pacino and De Niro as father and son, showing two parallel timelines. Pacino played Michael Corleone, the new Don of the Corleone crime family and De Niro played the younger version of his father Vito Corleone. The film traces Vito’s journey from his Sicillian childhood to being a gang lord in New York City. It won Coppola the Best Director and De Niro the Best Supporting Actor Academy Awards.
Taxi Driver (1976): The Martin Scorsese directorial starred Jodie Foster alongside De Niro and told the story of a lonely war veteran (De Niro) working as a taxi driver in NYC, who descends into insanity as he plots to assassinate the presidential candidate for whom the woman he is infatuated with works and the pimp of an underage prostitute he befriends. The film was based on John Hinckley Jr, who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
Raging Bull (1980): A biographical neo-noir sports drama directed by Scorsese, it starred De Niro as Jake LaMotta, an Italian-American middleweight boxer. The film traced how LaMotta’s rage, sexual jealousy, and animalistic appetite destroyed his relationship with his wife and family. It won De Niro his second Academy Award.
Goodfellas (1990): Another Scorsese directorial, it traced the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill and his friends and family from 1955 to 1980. Goodfellas is widely regarded as one of the greatest films in the gangster genre and had De Niro play James "Jimmy the Gent" Conway, a truck hijacker.
Meet the Parents (2000): A departure from the gangster movies De Niro is most famous for, this comedy by Jay Roach chronicles a series of unfortunate events that befall a good-hearted nurse (Ben Stiller) while visiting his girlfriend's parents. The film stars De Niro as the girlfriend's father, Jack Byrnes, a retired CIA operative.
The Good Shepherd (2006): Directed by and starring De Niro along with Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, it was promoted as the untold story of counter-intelligence’s birth in the Central Intelligence Agency. Apart from De Niro's direction, the film also marked Joe Pesci's return to acting after an eight-year absence.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Starring Bradley Cooper Jennifer Lawrence, De Niro, Anupam Kher and Julia Stiles, the romantic drama has Cooper play Patrizio "Pat" Solitano Jr., a man with bipolar disorder who is released from a psychiatric hospital into the care of his parents, played by De Niro and Jacki Weaver. Pat subsequently meets a young widow with borderline personality disorder, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who offers to help him get his estranged wife back. The two get closer, forcing Pat, his father and Lawrence to examine their relationships with each other as they try to cope with their individual problems.
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