The Iconic Roles of Robert De Niro

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American actor and filmmaker Robert De Niro is one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time. He has appeared in over 100 movies in a career spanning more than five decades, with some of his earliest roles being emblematic of the classic ‘American gangster’, in such classic films as Mean Streets and The Godfather. De Niro’s iconic roles have taken him to the top of Hollywood, where he has played in some of the greatest classics of all time. His versatility and talent have made him one of the leading figures to ever grace the screen. This article will look at some of Robert De Niro’s most iconic roles.

The Street Tough: Robert De Niro in Mean Streets

Robert De Niro first came to prominence with his role as Johnny Boy in the classic film, Mean Streets, directed by Martin Scorsese. The film follows the life of petty criminals in the Little Italy neighborhood in New York City. De Niro’s character Johnny Boy is a small-time criminal and delinquent with a penchant for getting into trouble. The role was a departure from the typical depictions of gangsters at the time, as it showed a more realistic portrayal of life on the streets, and it helped to establish De Niro as an actor who could portray characters that felt complex, real, and authentic. It was also through this role that De Niro first gained the attention of fellow actor and director Martin Scorsese, who would go on to become lifelong collaborators.

The Godfather Trilogy

In 1974, director Francis Ford Coppola cast Robert De Niro in a small but pivotal role in The Godfather Part II. The film, which served as a follow-up to the original Godfather, became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, and De Niro’s performance would become one of his most iconic roles. De Niro plays young Vito Corleone, a role that he reprised in The Godfather Part III. Through his performance, he was able to capture the essence of Marlon Brando’s character in the original Godfather with a mesmerizing blend of authenticity and menace. The role earned De Niro an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, making him the first actor to win an Oscar for playing a younger version of a character previously portrayed by another actor.

The Boxer: Robert De Niro in Raging Bull

De Niro is perhaps best known for his role in the classic film, Raging Bull. The film follows the life story of middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta, with De Niro delivering an unforgettable performance as the troubled fighter. To prepare for the role, De Niro studied the sport of boxing extensively and even played LaMotta in a real fight. De Niro’s transformation was so complete that LaMotta himself said that he felt like he was watching himself on the screen. De Niro’s performance in the film earned him a Best Actor Academy Award and he is often regarded as one of the greatest performances in film history.

Comedic Icon: Robert De Niro in Analyze This

Robert De Niro is also well-known for his comedic performances, most notably in the role of “therapist to the mob” Dr. Ben Sobol in Analyze This. De Niro perfectly captures the blend of funny, bizarre, and deadpan humor of his iconic character, trying to understand and solve the psychological issues of his patient. The film, which also stars Billy Crystal, was a commercial success and established De Niro as a comedic actor, proving his versatility and range beyond the gangster and tough-guy roles he had become known for.

The Gangster: Robert De Niro in Casino

One of De Niro’s most iconic roles came in 1995’s Casino, where he plays the part of Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a character based on real-life Las Vegas gangster Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. The film, directed by Martin Scorsese, sees Ace take on the challenge of running a Vegas casino and becoming a successful entrepreneur. Once again, De Niro was able to capture the essence of his character and imbue him with a realism that made the film a classic. De Niro’s performance was also critically acclaimed and is often regarded as one of his best.

Robert De Niro is one of the greatest actors of all time, having captivated audiences and gained worldwide fame for his iconic roles. From Johnny Boy in Mean Streets to Ace Rothstein in Casino, De Niro has established himself as an actor of incredible versatility and genius. His performances have not only taken him to the top of Hollywood, but they have also become forever etched in popular culture as representations of some of the greatest characters to ever appear on screen.

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