Beginning his acting career in the mid-1960s, Robert De Niro has become one of Hollywood’s most prolific and important stars. Known for his frequent collaborations with Martin Scorsese, De Niro has starred in over 160 across six decades, including Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Godfather Part II, Raging Bull, Once Upon a Time in America, and The Irishman.
Widely recognised as one of the greatest actors of his generation, De Niro is seemingly able to morph into his characters effortlessly – whether that be a depressed war veteran or a gangster. The actor has demonstrated his versatility throughout the years, explaining his dedication to his roles by stating: “To totally submerge into another character and experience life through him, without having to risk the real-life consequences—well it’s a cheap way to do doing things that you would never dare to do yourself.”
Although De Niro is best known for playing gangsters, criminals, and all-around tough guys, the actor hasn’t shied away from other genres such as animation and rom-coms. In the 2000s, De Niro’s career began to sag with the weight of some poorly received film credits, such as Shark Tale, Meet the Fockers, and The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Although he starred in many successful box-office hits during this period, much of these were critically panned – the icing on the cake being the film that many labelled as one of the worst movies of all time – 2016’s Dirty Grandpa.
However, a year prior, De Niro starred in the buddy comedy-drama The Intern, directed by Nancy Meyers, who had previously directed such films as The Holiday and The Parent Trap. Despite being a world away from the roles we know and love De Niro for, the film was a box office success, with many critics, including director Quentin Tarantino, heralding De Niro’s performance as one of the best of the year. The Intern follows a bored and widowed 71-year-old man (De Niro) who decides to become an intern at an online fashion website, which leads to an unlikely friendship forming between him and CEO Jules (Anne Hathaway).
In an interview with People alongside co-star Anne Hathaway, the pair answer a variety of quickfire questions, one of these being: “What is your favourite De Niro line?” De Niro picks a line from Raging Bull, Martin Scorsese’s seventh film, which chronicles the downfall of a middleweight boxer played by De Niro. The film won the star his second Oscar and has since become a cult classic that is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.
The line De Niro picks is from a scene between Jake and his first wife Irma LaMotta, played by Lori Anne Flax, in which she is cooking him a steak. Jake says to her “Don’t overcook it. You overcook it, it’s no good. It defeats its own purpose.” This results in Jake flipping the table once he receives his steak, demonstrating the volatile nature of his personality. Although it is such a simple line, it acts as a further insight into the way that LaMotta treated women. Filled with intense jealousy and rage, even the ‘incorrect’ preparation of his meal could send the boxer into a frenzy. With such clever and well-written lines such as this one, it’s no wonder Raging Bull is considered as such an important piece of cinema.