Kazan recalls that De Niro "would do almost anything to succeed" and noted that he cut his weight down from 170 to 128 pounds for the role in this film. Fearing he had become typecast in mob roles, he began expanding into occasional comedic roles in the mid-1980s and has had much success there as well, with such films as Brazil (1985), Midnight Run (1988), Analyze This (1999), Meet the Parents (2000), and Meet the Fockers (2004).
He earned Academy Award nominations for the psychological thrillers Taxi Driver (1976) and Cape Fear (1991), both directed by Scorsese.
He received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2003, the Golden Globe Cecil B.
De Mille Award in 2010, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2016.
De Niro's first film role came at the age of 20, when he appeared in Brian De Palma's 1963 film The Wedding Party, but the film was not released until 1969.
He then appeared in Roger Corman's film Bloody Mama (1970).