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Robert De Niro once picked his favourite actors of all time


Known as one of the greatest modern actors, Robert De Niro is famous for his maverick method acting antics, expressing putting the cast and crew of many of his films to the test. Starring in the films of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Quentin Tarantino, De Niro has gone on to influence the world of acting, inspiring other performers such as Ryan Gosling, Daniel Day-Lewis and more. 

Most well-known for his collaboration with Martin Scorsese in films including Taxi Driver, The Irishman and Goodfellas, Robert De Niro is a captivating character actor who has enjoyed continued success throughout his 56-year career. The iconic filmmaker called the actor “the greatest actor of his generation” when the director presented the actor with the Variety Creative Impact in Acting Award. During his introductory speech, Scorsese said De Niro’s “creative impact in acting will always be felt so long as there are actors to express their art”.

Often appearing in dark thrillers and gangster flicks, Robert De Niro has become synonymous with the names of Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta as acting icons of the gangster genre. His early influences in the industry differed greatly from the films he has appeared in, however, revealing in a rare interview with Kenneth Branagh his favourite screen actors and inspirations as a hopeful young actor.

After being asked in the interview who his earliest film influences were, De Niro responds, “I was thinking actually some early English films like Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Albert Finney, there was This Sporting Life with Richard Harris. Those films I remember were considered, when I was a kid, they were art film films in America and were not as mainstream as European films are becoming today”. 

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Aside from his influences from English cinema, De Niro also lists his favourite classic American actors, noting, “In America, the actors I thought were the most interesting were James Dean, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Kim Stanley and Greta Garbo”. Commenting on the quality of their iconic performances, De Niro adds, “When you saw James Dean do East of Eden he was great, but you can’t do what he could do. Brando with On the Waterfront or A Streetcar Named Desire, are considered the great performances of that time and still are”. 

Robert De Niro went on to briefly discuss his creative process with director Martin Scorsese where he works with the filmmaker to form the best possible character for the film. Discussing their process, he explains, “Some directors like to rehearse, like with Scorsese sometimes we videotape certain scenes, we rehearse and we improvise and we fool around to see if we can get anything else out of the scene”. 

Take a look at the entire interview between Robert De Niro and Kenneth Branagh below. 

Robert De Niro’s favourite actors:

  • Albert Finney
  • Richard Harris
  • James Dean
  • Marlon Brando
  • Montgomery Clift
  • Kim Stanley
  • Great Garbo