The words ‘iconic’ and ‘legendary’ are words quite often overused when describing celebrities, actors and musicians. When talking about Robert de Niro and John Cusack however, these words are very apt indeed. With eight decades of acting experience between them, the two have been involved in some of the most popular film productions of all time and frequently rank highly on fan favourite polls. To celebrate their collaboration in new crime thriller THE CARRIER, we take a look at some little known trivia that you might not know about these two screen greats. First of all, “Robert De Niro is waiting…”
1. At the age of 17, after leaving the movies with a friend, he unexpectedly stated that he was going to be a film actor. No one believed him until he dropped out of his senior year of high school and joined Stella Adler’s acting school..
2. De Niro and his directoral partner Martin Scorsese were brought up a few roads apart in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan but never met when they were young. When introduced at a party in 1972, the two came to realise that they had seen each other many times but never spoken
3. De Niro gets his perfectionism from his father. Robert De Niro Sr was an acclaimed Expressionist painter who studied his subjects in depth and repainted canvases hundreds of times.
4. When they met shortly before making Mean Streets (1973) De Niro and Harvey Keitel became good friends. De Niro was from Greenwich Village in Manhattan and was taught by Stella Adler and Keitel was from the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn and was mainly mentored by Lee Strasberg. But the two guarded actors bonded and remain close to this day.
5. He was also good friends with comedian John Belushi, who died of a drug overdose in 1982. In fact, De Niro and Robin Williams were the last stars to see Belushi alive, albeit on separate visits to L.A.’s Chateau Marmont hotel that sad day. De Niro visited Belushi at 3:00am on the morning of his death, but, according to eyewitnesses, left minutes later after seeing that Belushi was ill. Less than an hour earlier, Belushi had been visited by Robin Williams.
6. De Niro wants you over for dinner. He owns several restaurants, but his favourite is TriBeCa Grill in New York, frequently patronised by the man himself and decorated with his father’s paintings. Still haven’t had your fill? Check out De Niro’s own personal archive of scripts, costumes and props at the University Of Texas in Austin.
7. Movies turned down by De Niro include In The Line Of Fire (John Malkovich’s villain), The Departed (Martin Sheen’s cop), The Last Temptation Of Christ (Willem Dafoe’s Jesus), Do The Right Thing (Danny Aiello’s pizza-seller), Any Given Sunday (Al Pacino’s coach), Big(Tom Hanks’ adult), Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty’s lead), Home Alone (Joe Pesci’s burglar) and Misery (James Caan’s writer).
8. De Niro has four sons by three women. He married actress Diahnne Abbott (Taxi Driver,New York New York, The King Of Comedy) dated African-America model Toukie Smith and is currently hitched to ex-flight-attendant turned socialite Grace Hightower (who pops up as a social worker in Precious).
9. Grinding down his teeth (Cape Fear), working as a New York cabbie (Taxi Driver), learning the saxophone (New York, New York), eating ice cream and spaghetti to bulk on 60lbs (Raging Bull)… De Niro’s Method madness is legendary. But he lost the World Record for ‘Most weight gained for a movie’ to Vincent D’Onofrio, who flabbed on 70lbs for Full Metal Jacket.
10. Since his 1968 debut in Brian De Palma’s Greetings, there have been only five years when De Niro hasn’t released a movie. His work-rate continues to be huge. He starred in three movies in 2010, appears in four in 2011 and has four more out in 2012. He’s now in his early 70s (Birthday 17 August – also Sean Penn’s birthday) and shows no signs of slowing down.
1. Cusack is the product of a passionate political family. His mother still gets involved in anti-militarism and pro-human rights protests.
2. Cusack is an Irish-American. The name Cusack is originally a Norman name, brought to Ireland when the Normans invaded in 1169. “Cussac” is a city in South Central France.
3. Some kind of reference to his favourite bands (usually The Clash, The Ramones or The Specials) makes at least one appearance in most of his films. He either wears a t-shirt of one of the bands (Say Anything… (1989), High Fidelity (2000), Must Love Dogs (2005), etc), or sometimes he works in a poster of one of the bands (Grosse Pointe Blank, 1997). These bands often make the soundtracks to his own film productions as well.
4. During the famous ‘boom-box serenade’ scene in Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything… (1989), he is actually playing his favourite heavy rock band Fishbone’s tape on the stereo, while Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’ is what eventually played out in the movie.
5. The same movie’s line “I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen,” was voted as the #73 of ‘The 100 Greatest Movie Lines’ by Premiere.
6. He was good friends with legendary writer Hunter S. Thompson and almost got to play him in the movie version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
7. He was named ‘Stoner of the Year’ in 2010 by High Times Magazine for his performance in Hot Tub Time Machine.
8. In 1994, he attended his 10th year high school reunion in Illinois. He and the producers of the film had made a bet that if they came up with the financing for the high-school reunion set film Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), they would attend their real school reunions.
9. Grosse Point Blank features the most acting appearances of the Cusack family. John, his brother Bill and sisters Ann and Joan all appear in the film. Only John’s father Dick Cusack is absent.
10. Cusack has trained in kickboxing under former world kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez for over 20 years. He began training under Urquidez in preparation for his role in Say Anything… and currently holds the rank of a level six black belt in Urquidez’s Ukidokan Kickboxing system.
Lionsgate UK releases THE CARRIER on EST 20th July and DVD and VOD 3rd August, 2015