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De Niro: A Biography

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The life of Hollywood’s number one movie actor, the elusive Robert De Niro, who shuns the limelight and rarely gives interviews, written by the leading film critic and biographer of Spielberg, Kubrick, Woody Allen and George Lucas. Robert De Niro is the pre-eminent Hollywood character performer of our time: film portraits like the young Don Vito Corleone in THE GODFATHER The life of Hollywood’s number one movie actor, the elusive Robert De Niro, who shuns the limelight and rarely gives interviews, written by the leading film critic and biographer of Spielberg, Kubrick, Woody Allen and George Lucas. Robert De Niro is the pre-eminent Hollywood character performer of our time: film portraits like the young Don Vito Corleone in THE GODFATHER II, Jake La Motta in RAGING BULL and Travis Bickle in TAXI DRIVER are some of the most vivid ever put on celluloid. De Niro cannot be cast to type, prefers to work for old friends like Martin Scorsese, and (apart from FRANKENSTEIN) has never played anything but 20th-century roles. John Baxter calls him ‘the archetypal empty bottle which only becomes visible when it’s filled by a role’: which makes him such a tempting subject for one of Hollywood’s finest historian/biographers. As well as his film roles, Baxter examines De Niro’s often controversial private life, his collaborations with directors like Martin Scorsese and performers like Harvey Keitel and Meryl Streep, and his increasingly ambitious off-screen activities.


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The life of Hollywood’s number one movie actor, the elusive Robert De Niro, who shuns the limelight and rarely gives interviews, written by the leading film critic and biographer of Spielberg, Kubrick, Woody Allen and George Lucas. Robert De Niro is the pre-eminent Hollywood character performer of our time: film portraits like the young Don Vito Corleone in THE GODFATHER The life of Hollywood’s number one movie actor, the elusive Robert De Niro, who shuns the limelight and rarely gives interviews, written by the leading film critic and biographer of Spielberg, Kubrick, Woody Allen and George Lucas. Robert De Niro is the pre-eminent Hollywood character performer of our time: film portraits like the young Don Vito Corleone in THE GODFATHER II, Jake La Motta in RAGING BULL and Travis Bickle in TAXI DRIVER are some of the most vivid ever put on celluloid. De Niro cannot be cast to type, prefers to work for old friends like Martin Scorsese, and (apart from FRANKENSTEIN) has never played anything but 20th-century roles. John Baxter calls him ‘the archetypal empty bottle which only becomes visible when it’s filled by a role’: which makes him such a tempting subject for one of Hollywood’s finest historian/biographers. As well as his film roles, Baxter examines De Niro’s often controversial private life, his collaborations with directors like Martin Scorsese and performers like Harvey Keitel and Meryl Streep, and his increasingly ambitious off-screen activities.

30 review for De Niro: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Well, I only kept at this one for as long as I did because it was Robert De Niro. But it was not well-written at all. I think that I'm going to have to wait until he dies (hopefully for a long long long long time) before a decent biography comes out. I liked reading about how all his films came together and how he worked his craft, but it did things like, say, he took a class with an African-American (was the guy his teacher, his class-mate? I don't know), and this is the reason he hung out with Well, I only kept at this one for as long as I did because it was Robert De Niro. But it was not well-written at all. I think that I'm going to have to wait until he dies (hopefully for a long long long long time) before a decent biography comes out. I liked reading about how all his films came together and how he worked his craft, but it did things like, say, he took a class with an African-American (was the guy his teacher, his class-mate? I don't know), and this is the reason he hung out with black people for the rest of his life. What? Said absolutely nothing about the guy. Another one was that he had a pretty, vapid girlfriend at one point, said nothing about the relationship except that this was the reason he tended to marry trophy wives. Okaaay. Does anyone here know of a good biography on him? Cause I'm still interested.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Danielroffle

    Starts out strong, but as it goes on it becomes less and less interested in DeNiro's creative work and more and more interested in tabloid-y scandal stories. DeNiro emerges from the book as a weak, uninteresting character who only really comes alive in his roles and, judging by his more recent career (which Baxter rightfully pans), this means there's little of interest to read about from about the late 80's onwards. The book ends with a very silly showbiz epilogue (something along the lines of Starts out strong, but as it goes on it becomes less and less interested in DeNiro's creative work and more and more interested in tabloid-y scandal stories. DeNiro emerges from the book as a weak, uninteresting character who only really comes alive in his roles and, judging by his more recent career (which Baxter rightfully pans), this means there's little of interest to read about from about the late 80's onwards. The book ends with a very silly showbiz epilogue (something along the lines of "those like us ho have followed the rough & tumble career of DeNiro never know quite what to expect!"), trying to put some zip in a narrative that's long become depressing. DeNiro's personal shortcomings aren't Baxter's fault, of course; but the author fails to give us some sense of why one would be interested in the man's work in the first place.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matt Micucci

    Just because a book is easy to read it does not mean it's well written.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Xanxa

    If you love glowing celebrity biographies which portray the subject in the best possible light, this book is not for you. I'm a long-time De Niro fan and I wanted something more than just a list of all the movies he's acted in. This book provides some interesting details about his early life and his parents. I already knew about his father but I knew nothing whatsoever about his mother. I get the impression that the author really isn't enamoured with the subject. He portrays De Niro as an amoral, If you love glowing celebrity biographies which portray the subject in the best possible light, this book is not for you. I'm a long-time De Niro fan and I wanted something more than just a list of all the movies he's acted in. This book provides some interesting details about his early life and his parents. I already knew about his father but I knew nothing whatsoever about his mother. I get the impression that the author really isn't enamoured with the subject. He portrays De Niro as an amoral, selfish womaniser who has little personality of his own outside of his acting roles. I'm not too shocked by anything I've read, because I already know a fair amount about his method acting and the lengths he goes to when studying for roles. I also know that most of his relationships have failed because he largely ignored his partners whilst doing movie projects. The same can be said of many high-profile actors. It goes with the territory. I did learn some new things about his off-screen life, such as his business investments, most of which seem to have been abysmal failures. The author also doesn't seem to have a high opinion of most of De Niro's movie output, denigrating the majority of them as poor choices for roles and making losses at the box office. With celebrity biographies, you can never be sure how accurate the sources are. This one does a reasonable job, but I expect hardcore fans would probably be disappointed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Terribly written and seems to end mid sentence

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hai Le

    Really good biography of Robert De Nero. Showcases us his highest highs and his lowest lows. Nicely written by John Baxter. Gives us a real glimpse of what he was like as a person off camera as well as the level of depth he takes with his acting. A true method actor at heart and the level of attention to detail he takes with his characters makes you realise why he is so successful. Intrigued by his portfolio of 1000s of pictures dressed as different characters. Highly recommended for any film Really good biography of Robert De Nero. Showcases us his highest highs and his lowest lows. Nicely written by John Baxter. Gives us a real glimpse of what he was like as a person off camera as well as the level of depth he takes with his acting. A true method actor at heart and the level of attention to detail he takes with his characters makes you realise why he is so successful. Intrigued by his portfolio of 1000s of pictures dressed as different characters. Highly recommended for any film buff.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Biographies by their very nature contain a lot of personal opinion in them, but this author seems too snidey to me. Good early on when writing about De Niro's parents and early days, but not so good on De Niro the actor. To me he seems more intelligent than the author makes out, and Baxter concentrates on tittle tattle too much later on. Can't really recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Arian

    I enjoyed it as it was very well researched and interesting. It did annoy me a bit the way John Baxter down played Deniro a bit...i.e. made him out to be far less billiant than what he really is and as a result also didn't rate his perfomance in various of the movies he was in appropriately...especially the more recent of his movies.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liz Hernandez

    If you don't know anything about the De Niro's movies this is a good start. It gives you a lot of details about his movies more than his personal life. This book was first published in 2002. I guess, 10 years later, an autobiography will be a lot better.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tim Evans

    Decent biography though a bit over critical. I mean the guy doesn't even like King Of Comedy?!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    3.5

  12. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Great actor to read about, he has been in so many good films. Just last night Midnight Run was on the tv, fantastic.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Terrance Gelenter

    Starts out with a bang just like DeNiro but he stopped making good movies before the book was finished so it sags at the end.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    Don't really know that much more about De Niro after reading this.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Neil

  16. 5 out of 5

    Damien

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rudy

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tony Lind

  19. 4 out of 5

    George

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lenore Emmanuelli

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zilko Tarici

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jim Martinkus

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ross

  25. 5 out of 5

    Darren Nicolson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pa

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Lamont

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sanjay

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