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Costars And Directors Talk About Working With Robert De Niro During His Most Famous Performances

Updated September 23, 2021 51.2k views12 items

Robert De Niro (Bob or Bobby to his friends) is known as of the world's greatest actors. De Niro's acting process is famously intense, delving deep into the "method" system taught by legendary acting coaches Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg. It's only natural to be curious what De Niro's costars say about him. Some love him, others hate him, but everyone comes away with a memorable story.

Over the years, many famous directors and actors have spoken about their time working with De Niro. These quotes tell the story of an unusual, thorough, and funny actor of the caliber Hollywood rarely sees.

  • Photo: Hunters / Amazon Studios

    Al Pacino has had a long association with De Niro, going back to The Godfather: Part II and the two men have remained friends nearly as long. Pacino said, "I love Robert. I have known him for so long. It's always fun to work with people you trust and know."

    The first time the men shared screen time was in Heat during a famous diner face-off scene: "The memory of it is good. When I think about it, I feel good. And when I see it, I feel good, too."

  • Photo: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock

    Sharon Stone was De Niro's costar in Casino, an opportunity she was eternally grateful for:

    I think for a long time people just did not know what to do with me. I looked like a Barbie doll... and I said things that were alarming and...  finally I got together with Marty and Bob, and they were like, "Give it all to us, baby, just let her rip if you've got it, we want it, let's see what you can do."

    Years later, Stone admitted that she had told her acting teacher her secret goal was "to be able to sit across from Robert De Niro and hold my own."

  • Photo: Tinseltown / Shutterstock

    Kevin Costner appeared with De Niro in The Untouchables, in which the two played rivals in Chicago's underbelly. Costner apparently found the experience intimidating:

    I had trouble with some of the scenes with [De Niro] because my character was very straight-arrow, and Robert was able to jump off the page. I was trying to survive with my straight-arrow language against someone who was throwing a level of street language at me that had a level of improv to it. So it was hard for me to survive in some of those scenes, and Sean [Connery] talked to me a little bit about it.

  • Illeana Douglas was familiar with De Niro years before she appeared on screen with him, thanks to her relationship with Martin Scorsese. She had a knack for making him smile on the set of Goodfellas:

    I had [one] routine called "Raging Bullwinkle." Basically, cartoon characters Rocky and Bullwinkle acting out a scene from Raging Bull as Jake and Joe LaMotta... I made Robert De Niro laugh.

    When Douglas and De Niro did appear on screen together in an infamously intense Cape Fear scene, they worked together to brighten the mood for the crew:

    The mood on set was so somber that Bob and I lightened things up by doing Three Stooges routines between takes just to let everyone know I was okay, that we were... acting.