Spotlight on Robert De Niro

With the upcoming release of the new action movie, Killer Elite, Robert De Niro is adding yet another film to his collection. With more than 80 movies under his belt, here are some of his notable films that highlight his talent and give evidence to his diversity in performance. 

Taxi Driver (1976)

You can’t talk about Robert De Niro without mentioning Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. This intense film takes you on a ride with Travis Bickle, a depressed and psychotic taxi driver that some consider an anti-hero by the film’s end. Ripe with violence, an eerie original score and a 13-year-old Jodie Foster portraying a prostitute, this film will never let you forget De Niro’s infamously improvised line, “You talkin’ to me?”

Raging Bull (1980)

De Niro portrays real life boxer from the ‘40s, Jake LaMotta, in this Martin Scorsese film. Filmed almost entirely in black and white, it follows LaMotta’s battles both in the ring and in his relationships, where he exhibits unsettling violence and out of control jealousy. De Niro prepared for the role by learning how to box, and even competed in a few matches. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for this role.


Showing he’s not just a tough guy with an attitude, De Niro plays Leonard Lowe, a man in 1969 who “awakens” from a catatonic state thanks to the then-new drug, L-Dopa. He learns to adjust to his life after being out of commission for decades. Starring alongside Robin Williams, this film shows just how good De Niro is at becoming even the most humble of characters. Have tissues on hand for this one, as it will be unexpectedly tear-jerking.

Cape Fear (1991)

In this psychological thriller directed by Martin Scorsese (noticing a trend?), De Niro torments Nick Nolte and preys on a young Juliette Lewis as vengeful ex-convict, Max Cady. Certainly one of his more disturbing roles, check this movie out if you like suspense and an antagonist that just won’t give up right to the very end. Playing Max Cady earned De Niro nominations for Best Actor for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

Meet the Parents series (2000)

And last, but not least, our star of the moment dabbles with comedy in this series that includes Meet the Fockers (2004) and Little Fockers (2010). Though not De Niro’s first comedic role, playing Jack Byrnes — ex-CIA agent turned cat-loving, doting father — is one of his more memorable characters of funny charm. His tough demeanor serves for laughter this time around, and we can never really grow tired of seeing Ben Stiller squirm. 

Honorable mentions go out to Mean Streets (1973), The Deer Hunter (1978), Goodfellas(1990) and This Boy’s Life (1993).