Celebrated for being one of the finest acting talents in cinema history, Robert De Niro has a natural gift for totally embodying some of the film’s most intense characters. Abundantly featuring throughout the films of Martin Scorsese in Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and King of Comedy, each of De Niro’s performances are as iconic as the last.
Speaking in an interview with Charlie Rose upon the release of Jackie Brown, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino even marked Robert De Niro as “the best actor in the world”. Continuing, the director adds, “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”.
“De Niro has that down. He is so in character,” the director concludes, completing his shining speech about the great American actor. Though Quentin Tarantino may suggest he is “the best actor in the world”, in modern cinema, Robert De Niro has also taken part in his fair share of critical and commercial flops, including Dirty Grandpa Little Fockers and The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.
The aforementioned final film is a particularly strange one, based on the television cartoon of the same name following Rocky the squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose on a mission to stop the evil wrongdoings of their nemesis, Fearless Leader, played by a live-action, Robert De Niro. Despite De Niro’s eclectic mix of roles throughout the years, this one’s especially bizarre.
De Niro’s Fearless Leader speaks with a strange, unplaceable accent somewhere between British and Italian, donning a wet slicked-back hairdo, cartoonish scar and blue monocle. It’s a surreal turn for the influential actor, who in one scene even recalls his iconic line in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, when Travis Bickle approaches the mirror and says “Are you talkin’ to me?”.
Swivelling on a large black leather chair De Niro’s character addresses his two cronies on a large screen in front of him, asking, “Have you liquidated Moose and Squirrel?”. Once they hesitate in response, however, the actor announces, “Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me? Then who else are you talking to? Are you talking to me? Well, I am the only one here, so you must be talking to me,” directly mirroring the lines from Scorsese’s original classic.
Speaking to Gamesradar in 2008, however, it seems as though De Niro doesn’t regret taking such frivolous, family-friendly roles. When asked if such films ‘have tainted his legacy’, he replied, “I had fun in those movies. Erm, I had a good time on Rocky & Bullwinkle”.
We’re still waiting for a parody of his Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter.