De Niro: A Life
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
REMARKABLE BIOGRAPHY OF AN ICON
There’s little debate that Robert De Niro is one of the greatest screen actors of his generation, perhaps of all time--if not, in fact, the greatest. His work, particularly in the first 20 years of his career, is unparalleled. Mean Streets, the Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, the Deer Hunter, and Raging Bull all dazzled moviegoers and critics alike, displaying a talent the likes of which had rarely--if ever--been seen. De Niro became known for his deep involvement in his characters, assuming that role completely into his own life, resulting in extraordinary, chameleonic performances.
Yet little is known about the off-screen De Niro--he is an intensely private man, whose rare public appearances are often marked by inarticulateness and palpable awkwardness. It can be almost painful to watch at times, in powerful contrast to his confident movie personae. In this elegant and compelling biography, bestselling writer Shawn Levy writes of these many De Niros--the characters and the man--seeking to understand the evolution of an actor who once dove deeply into his roles as if to hide his inner nature, and who now seemingly avoids acting challenges, taking roles which make few apparent demands on his overwhelming talent. Following De Niro's roots as the child of artists (his father, the abstract painter Robert De Niro Sr., was widely celebrated) who encouraged him from an early age to be independent of vision and spirit, to his intense schooling as an actor, the rise of his career, his marriages, his life as a father, restauranteur, and businessman, and, of course, his current movie career, Levy has written a biography that reads like a novel about a character whose inner turmoil takes him to heights of artistry. His many friendships with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Harvey Keitel, Shelley Winters, Francis Ford Coppola, among many others, are woven into this extraordinary portrait of DeNiro the man and the artist, also adding a depth of understanding not before seen.
Levy has had unprecedented access to De Niro's personal research and production materials, creating a new impression of the effort that went into the actor's legendary performances. The insights gained from DeNiro’s intense working habits shed new perspective on DeNiro’s thinking and portrayals and are wonderful to read. Levy also spoke to De Niro's collaborators and friends to depict De Niro's transition from an ambitious young man to a transfixing and enigmatic artist and cultural figure.
Shawn Levy has written a truly engaging, insightful, and entertaining portrait of one of the most wonderful film artists of our time, a book that is worthy of such a great talent.
Noodles, through whose aging eyes the epic narrative unfolds in retrospect, he agreed to make the film, and he went from reluctant involvement to active interest. James Woods had been cast as Max (after Gérard Depardieu had first agreed to learn English to play the part and then backed out), and De Niro would urge certain other performers on Leone: Joe Pesci, Burt Young, and Danny Aiello, whose screen test De Niro agreed to participate in just so the actor, who was touchy about having to audition
number of official representatives of Soviet arts organizations. That resulted in his being invited to the Moscow Film Festival the following year, and, even more, to serve as the first-ever American president of the festival jury. He had been to Havana in 1985, alongside Christopher Walken and Treat Williams, to attend the opening night of the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema; a true Manhattan lefty, he had enjoyed the opportunity to taste firsthand a culture that geopolitical
after shooting, another $20,000 to have them restored to their usual luster). And he sat patiently for hours of makeup tests to help design his look for various moments in the film when Cady would be disfigured by the Bowdens, by police, or by other parties. He was especially taken with the religious aspect of Cady’s obsessions. He bought a Bible concordance and consulted it for ideas about revenge. He studied jailhouse tattoos and spent a lot of time and money designing the array of body art
place. Initially, Universal imagined that the film would cost $15 million, but the budget soon spiraled upward, often because of De Niro’s demands and preferences. He would be paid $4 million to appear, he would only make the movie in New York with a union crew, and he refused to guarantee cost overruns with his salary. Sensing the budget inching over $20 million, Universal agreed to let Tribeca go elsewhere to find new partners. (“We thought it would be an inexpensive movie,” a studio executive
warrior, he proves himself a valuable one. And he has a code: “Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt.” Stuff like that, played to low-key, hard-boiled perfection, is clearly what drew De Niro to the role, and he plays it just as he did Neil McCauley in Heat, giving himself over willingly to the larger enterprise, playing a part in a big, engaging cinematic machine. It’s not a great movie, but it’s a damn good genre film, and De Niro elevates it with the weight of his presence and his