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10+ Cool Facts Fans Didn't Know About Robert De Niro

When it comes to Robert De Niro, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't know which critically-acclaimed movies he's been in.

This impressive list includes Taxi Driver, Cape Fear, and The Godfather.

But when it comes to his personal life, well, there's a lot less known. Thankfully, these 10+ cool facts are here to help you get to know the actor on a much more personal level.

1. He has dual citizenship in Italy and the United States:

He was born in the United States, but he comes from Italian ancestry

This comes from his father's side, as he was half Italian and half Irish descent. Were you aware of that?

2. His most famous line was improvised:

Can you guess what it is? If you said, “You talkin’ to me?” you'd be right!

The Taxi Driver script only described the scene as “Travis looks in the mirror," but De Niro ad-libbed the iconic line.

3. Both his parents were painters:

Art clearly runs in the De Niro family.

His mother Virginia Admiral, was part of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and his father, Robert De Niro, Sr., is a renowned painter whose work is held in several museums across the world.

4. He's been married twice:

First, to Diahnne Abbott who he was with for seven years before their 1988 divorce.

And then to Grace Hightower, who he wed in 1997.

While they also divorced in the end, they did have two kids together: Elliot and their daughter, Helen, via surrogate.

5. He used to be in a gang:

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No wonder he's so good at playing a gangster in movies!

While living in New York as a teenager, he joined a street gang. He had the nickname “Bobby Milk," which was a nod to his pale skin.

6. He has six kids:

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You can add "proud dad" to add to his impressive resume! His kids are Drena, Raphael, Aaron, Julian, Elliot, and Helen.

“I love my children, just being with them,” he told Us Weekly at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2019.

“[But] It’s not easy. When you have the good moments [though], you forget about the ones that weren’t good."

Paramount Pictures

He continued:

“It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s fun and you love your kids, and sometimes you want to kill them!”

7. He made his first movie with Martin Scorsese in 1973:

Warner Bros.

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro go together like bread and butter. In other words: perfection.

They've done a lot of movies together throughout the years, but the very first one was Mean Streets.

With *The Irishmen* that came out last year, they've now done nine movies together!

Get this: without knowing it, they even lived only streets away from each other when they both lived in the Greenwich Village area of New York City.

8. He once gained 60 pounds for a role:

Actors gaining weight for a role is nothing new in Hollywood.

De Niro put on weight for his role in Raging Bull. Thing is, this was for one scene, so he had to lose it all after. Thankfully, he won an Oscar for his efforts.

9. He got his taxicab driver’s license to prepare for his role in *Taxi Driver*:

Columbia Pictures

Talk about dedication!

He would work 12-hour days for a month. He even used his breaks during filming to go and pick up passengers and take them to their destinations around New York City.

10. He became attached to the cats in *Meet the Parents*:

Aw, Jinxy!

According to behind-the-scenes info, he always wanted one of the cats to join him during his scenes.

He also wanted to train them, but this never happened; he would keep kibble in his pockets instead.

11. He had his tooth chipped down for a role:

If you haven't figured this out yet, Robert makes many sacrifices for a movie.

In order to look more like a criminal when portraying Max Cady in Cape Fear, he paid a dentist $5,000 to grind down his teeth.

After filming was finished, he went right back to the dentist to get it fixed.

Universal Pictures

This cost $20, making the grand total $25,000!

With this level of dedication, thank goodness he landed the Oscar nomination for Best Actor!

12. He was the last person to see John Belushi before his death:

The comedian, most known for his iconic role in The Blues Brothers, sadly died of a cocaine and heroin overdose at the age of 33 on March 5, 1982.

Before his untimely death, De Niro had stopped by his suite at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont hotel.

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De Niro had reportedly tried to get Belushi to leave the hotel for some fun on the Sunset Strip.

Word has it that the late Robin Williams was also there that night.

13. He's part of Oscar history:

Both he and actor Marlon Brando took home the Academy Award for portraying Vito Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II.

Jokers, Joaquin Pheonix and the late Heath Ledger also accomplished this!

14. His first acting role was when he was only 10:

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He played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. Um, totally Oscar-worthy!

We can only imagine how adorable a young Robert De Niro in a lion costume was!

15. He was once interrogated for a prostitution ring in Paris:

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This happened in 1998. Since he was innocent, he filed an official complaint and vowed to never return to the country again.

"I will never return to France. I will advise my friends against going to France," he told Le Monde. newspaper. He cooled off eventually.