Robert De Niro is perhaps the most iconic living actor. The method actor has been known to disappear completely into dark roles and even risk his life for the process.
De Niro gained so much weight to play Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull (1980) that he reportedly had trouble breathing during the physically exhausting production, even to the point where director Martin Scorsese shut down filming because he feared that De Niro’s health would fail him.
We’ve seen the legend as a young Vito Corleone before the Godfather became a Don, as a delusional taxi driver who wishes to wash away all the scum of the earth, and a Goodfella who would kill his friends but would never rat them out.
Despite De Niro’s massive presence on the big screen, the 71-year-old actor has mostly kept his private life private. However, that’s about to change.
In Shawn Levy’s biography De Niro: A Life, available just in time for the holidays, the dark curtain of the actor’s life is pulled back for the audience to finally see. Many of De Niro’s secrets and most private moments are now on display in Levy’s unauthorized bio.
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Levy writes in his book that after De Niro found success in films like Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, that he became a heavy cocaine user. His affinity for the drug led to a friendship with John Belushi, he was even with the comedy legend at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles on the night that Belushi died from a drug overdose from mixing heroin and cocaine. In fact, Levy contends that De Niro may have felt some level of responsibility for his part in Belushi’s tragic death because the friends had talked about using heroin as a way for Belushi to go method for an upcoming film role.
The book also goes into De Niro’s romantic life and his womanizing ways. Levy discusses the actor’s relationships with Uma Thurman, Whitney Houston, and Naomi Campbell. The biographer also delves into the darker side of De Niro. He writes about the man who was abusive to his girlfriends and had an extremely bad temper. There is also a story about how De Niro tried to force one of his girlfriends to get an abortion.
Despite the revealing of De Niro’s darkest secrets, Levy also clearly respects and admires the actor. This is not just a book about uncovering skeletons in an icon’s closet. The biography also explores De Niro’s whole life story, including his childhood. Additionally, the book covers the actor’s impressive 40 year career and filmography.
De Niro has yet to comment on Levy’s biography.