Over the course of his trailblazing career, Quentin Tarantino has worked with some of the most talented actors in the world – ranging from Samuel L. Jackson to Leonardo DiCaprio. However, Tarantino still considers one of his old collaborators to be the best actor he has worked with, as well as the finest artistic talent of his generation.
That specific actor is none other than Robert De Niro, who had collaborated with Tarantino on the 1997 film Jackie Brown. In what is widely regarded as one of Tarantino’s finest works, De Niro plays the role of Louis Gara – an ex-con who recently got out of prison but ends up being roped into yet another criminal fiasco which ends terribly for him.
Speaking in an interview with Charlie Rose upon the release of Jackie Brown, Tarantino stated: “He deserves his reputation as probably the greatest actor of his generation”.
Continuing, he comments, “I think he is the best actor in the world. I’ve never seen an actor so completely consume himself in character, in true character work during the work. And what I mean by that is when Robert is playing Louis…he is working moment to moment.”
Prior to Jackie Brown, Tarantino and De Niro had known each other for a while. When he was asked about his first meeting with the actor, De Niro recalled: “It was in Cannes ’92 when I was there for Reservoir Dogs and he had a little party on his boat. An old acting teacher of mine, Allen Garfield, is [his] contemporary. I came up to [Bob] and go: ‘Hey, I used to study with Allen Garfield.’ The response was: ‘Oh, well. There’s nothing more to be said.'”
In the same interview, De Niro revealed that he had heard about Tarantino from his actor friends like Harvey Keitel, which made him want to see Pulp Fiction. “I had heard about Quentin through Harvey Keitel who had been working with him… I saw Pulp Fiction first,” De Niro admitted. “I saw it and it was terrific… the sense of humour, the irony, a lot of things that I like in movies.”
Tarantino is also an outspoken fan of De Niro’s work, citing Taxi Driver, his 1976 collaboration with Martin Scorsese, as one of his favourites of all time. In a discussion with Sky Movies, Tarantino said: “One of the things about Taxi Driver [is] that it is just so magnificent. I actually do feel that it may be the greatest first-person character study ever committed to film. I mean, I really actually can’t even think of a second, or a third or a fourth that can even come into contention with it.”