Vito Corleone, Travis Bickle, Jake La Motta, and Max Cady have definitely left their mark on the American cinema. With one or another way, they have all managed to fascinate the audiences as unique characters that were all portrayed by the same actor. Having the extraordinary ability to transform himself like a chameleon from a mobster (“Vito Corleone” in The Godfather: Part II, 1974), to a mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran (“Travis Bickle” in Taxi Driver, 1976), and from a self-destructive boxer (“Jake La Motta” in Raging Bull, 1980) to a convicted rapist (“Max Cady” in Cape Fear, 1991), among others, Robert De Niro is unanimously accepted as one of the greatest actors of all time.
De Niro’s Matchless Charm
Having won two Oscars so far as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Godfather: Part II (1974) and as Best Actor in a Leading Role for Raging Bull (1980), Robert De Niro is a universally respected actor. Although his roles are, in majority, villainous characters having associations with organized crime, violence, and corruption, De Niro dresses his roles with charm, making them quite popular. It is not extreme to say that he is the most well-liked anti-hero actor exactly because he simpplifies sheer charm whether he is Al Capone in “The Untouchables” (1987) or Jimmy Conway in “Goodfellas” (1990).
De Niro’s Extraordinary Dedication To His Roles
More than his charm, De Niro is universally accepted for being entirely committed to the work on hand and demonstrating an extraordinary dedication throughout his career. Being an advocate of method acting, De Niro is actually one of the few actors who actually study and research their role and focus on all the necessary preparation, even for minor things.
For his role as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather: Part II” (1974), De Niro studied the Sicilian dialect and lived in Sicily for quite sometime to create a finely honed character that awarded him his first Oscar.
For his role in “Taxi Driver” (1976), De Niro not only worked as a cab driver for a month to prepare for his role, but he also studied how mentally ill people behave to portray Travis Bickle as precisely as possible.
For “New York New York” (1977), De Niro learned to play the saxophone to portray Jimmy Doyle, the saxophone player.
For portraying Jake La Motta in “Raging Bull” (1980), De Niro had to gain 60 pounds and go through extensive physical training to portray La Motta as accurately as possible. In fact, De Niro met La Motta and trained with him for quite sometime. This effort awarded De Niro his second Oscar.
In “Awakenings” (1990), De Niro spent a lot of time with people suffering from encephalitis to understand their symptoms and be able to portray Leonard Lowe.
For his role in “Cape Fear” (1991), De Niro studied how sexual predators behave to be able to portray evil Max Cady as truthfully as possible. He also invented the scene where Cady bites his victims and he spent $5,000 for grounding his teeth. When the film was over, he spent another $20,000 to have his teeth fixed again. Also, he worked out to make his body more muscular and brought his body fat down to 3 percent.
De Niro Is Also a Brilliant Comedian
Besides becoming stereotype in mob roles, Robert De Niro has a proven record of success in comedian roles as well. He has participated in several comedies including “Analyze This” (1999), “Analyze That” (2002), “Showtime” (2002) and “Meet The Fockers” (2004) and he has demonstrated the same dedication. What make Robert De Niro great are his exhaustive research and his focus on being perfectionist.
Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award
On January 16, 2011, Robert De Niro will receive the Cecil B DeMille Award lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes as a tribute to his legendary, 40-year movie career. Without any doubt, Robert De Niro is one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema for being dedicated to his work and an actor with a true charisma. He has proven that all these years by portraying diverse characters. It was about time he was awarded with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the evolution of American cinema.