Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro: A Tale of Hollywood Legends

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, The two Hollywood giants

The first encounter between the two Hollywood giants, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, took place in 1993 during auditions for the play “This Boy’s Life.” DiCaprio left a significant impression on De Niro, whom he had crossed paths with for the first time more than three decades earlier.

At the age of 80, Robert De Niro was already a two-time Oscar winner when he joined the cast of “This Boy’s Life” in 1993. The film, set in the 1950s, was based on Tobias Wolff’s 1989 memoir of the same name.

DiCaprio, then 49, known for his role in the ABC sitcom “Growing Pains,” came in to audition for a part but not for the lead role of Tobias, which he eventually landed.

Hollywood Pictures Paramount Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in “Killers of the Flower Moon”
© Provided by Individuals

“I told producer Art Linson, I said, ‘There’s something interesting about that kid.’ I didn’t push it forward. I just said, ‘There’s something special about that kid,’ and then they turned around and stopped using Leo,” De Niro recalls in a recent interview.

In the film, DiCaprio portrayed the character of 15-year-old Tobias, whose single mother Caroline (played by Ellen Barkin) takes him to Washington state, where he becomes involved with Dwight Hansen (De Niro), a man who offers some stability to the family.

After Caroline marries him, his darker side becomes apparent: he’s selfish and verbally abusive, directing his anger primarily at young Toby, belittling him at every turn.

Three years after the release of “This Boy’s Life,” both De Niro and DiCaprio appeared together again in the 1996 play “Marvin’s Room” alongside Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep.

Their third and most recent collaboration, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” tells the chilling true story of the Osage Reign of Terror in the 1920s Oklahoma. William Hale (De Niro), a benevolent white man, conspires to steal the prosperous land from several Native Americans by orchestrating their murders.

DiCaprio portrays Ernest, Hale’s simple-minded nephew, who marries an Osage woman, Mollie (played by Lily Gladstone). Unsurprisingly, Hale targets Mollie.

Asked about where his roles alongside such sinister characters stand in his career, De Niro acknowledges their place.

“He’s very bad. But then it’s said to be the banality of evil, and the way I explain it is…the bad things he does, he doesn’t think they’re bad. So, I think it’s one of the most lethal characters,” he says.

“He’s a pillar of the community, and then he’s doing these other nefarious things,” he keeps saying. “That’s surprising to me because I don’t understand it.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” has received 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (for Martin Scorsese), Best Actress (for Gladstone), and Best Supporting Actor (for De Niro).

De Niro’s latest nomination marks his eighth acting Oscar nomination (he has another one for producing “The Irishman”), placing him in the elite company of only 17 performers in Hollywood history with eight or more acting nominations.

Leave a Comment