The Impact of Robert de Niro on Pop Culture

Robert Anthony De Niro Jr., born on August 17, 1943, is an American actor and producer. Throughout his successful career, he has participated in many films, leading and supporting roles. He has also won many awards, including Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Cecil B. De Millie Award, etc. 

His awards and the huge lists of films prove that Robert de Niro is an excellent actor who has taken part in several movies and made a name for himself on the big screen. 

Robert de Niro was born in Manhattan, New York, where he started studying acting seriously at the HB Studio, Stella Adler Conservatory, and Lee Strasberg’s Action Studio. With the skills he learned at these schools, he managed to snag a role in Greetings, which was his first major role. 

From there on, he starred in one movie after another. Some were extremely famous and became a staple part of everyone’s favorite movies. At the same time, some were less memorable and got swept under the rug. However, something constant was Robert de Niro’s acting abilities, which were excellent every time. 

Due to his excellent acting has gotten leading roles that have become staple parts of pop culture. One such example is that of Robert de Niro’s film Joker, which is an essential part of 2010s pop culture.  

Impact of Robert de Niro

Robert de Niro is a giant when it comes to pop culture. He has been a part of some of the top films, which were critically acclaimed and praised by all those who watched them. He was also a producer, which is another way he managed to make his mark on pop culture.

Although he has many impressive movies and roles under his belt, one movie that really impacted pop culture was Joker. With all of his roles, he manages to give it his all. Therefore, his characters really come to life, and one forgets that it is Robert de Niro underneath it all. 

Raging Bull

One of Robert de Niro’s most memorable films is a 1980s biographical sports drama film called Raging Bull. This film was directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. 

Raging Bull was adapted from Jake LaMotta’s memoir written in the 1970s called Raging Bull: My Story. When Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin came across this memoir, they were deeply inspired by it and planned to turn it into a film. To do so, they wrote a screenplay which was accepted. 

The story revolves around an Italian-American middleweight boxer, Jake LaMotta, who is self-destructive. Furthermore, he also tends to be obsessive, hot-tempered, and jealous. He shows signs of an animalistic appetite when it comes to his relationships. Due to these tendencies, he does not have a great bond with his wife and family.

Robert de Niro plays Jake LaMotta; other cast members include Cathy Moriarty, Frank Vincent, and Nicholas Colasantro. 

Upon its release on December 19, 1980, the film had mixed reviews. People were unsure of the story but praised Robert de Niro’s acting. The movie’s editing was also generally well-liked. Despite the initial lukewarm reactions, people began liking the film, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards. 

Out of the eight Academy Awards it was nominated for, Raging Bull took home two, including Best Actor for Robert de Niro and Best Editing. Raging Bull is a critically acclaimed film that is often said to be one of the best films ever made. These claims show the impact that Robert de Niro and his acting have had on pop culture. 

The film is also the first to be selected in its first year of eligibility to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry. Thus, it is considered culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. The American Film Institute has also ranked Raging Bull to be the fourth greatest movie of all time.

The King of Comedy

Robert de Niro kept his acting career pretty interesting by changing up the kinds of characters he portrayed. In 1982, he was the lead actor in a satirical black comedy drama. Martin Scorsese directed this film, making it the fifth film the two done in collaboration. Other cast members included Jerry Lewis and Sandra Barnhard. 

This film, written by Paul D. Zimmerman, focused on celebrity worship and how it plays out in the context of American media culture. When released, the movie was positively received, and the critics heavily praised the film.

Furthermore, over time, the reputation of the film has grown. Initially, people were uncomfortable about being faced with the reality, but they have come to accept it and now genuinely enjoy the film as a whole.

The King of Comedy is listed in the Best Films of the 1980s by the American Film and in the 1001 Movies, You Must See Before You Die.


Another one of Robert de Niro’s popular films includes Heat. This film was released in 1995 and is a crime drama that Micheal Mann wrote and directed. A huge cast was involved in making this film, including Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, John Voight, Tom Sizemore, and Val Kilmer.

The film follows two characters, an LAPD detective, played by Al Pacino, and a career thief, played by Robert de Niro. These characters have a conflict, and the entire film revolves around their personal and professional relationship.

When Warner Bros Pictures released Heat on December 15, 1995, it was extremely well received and became a critical and commercial success. The film also grossed $187 million. Overall, the direction, screenplay, and acting was greatly praised.

The performance that Al-Pacino and Robert de Niro put on was extraordinary. Despite not being nominated for any major awards, the film remains one of the genre’s most influential films. It has inspired several other works as well.


Casino is another Robert de Niro and Martin Scorsese collaboration produced by Barbara De Fina in 1995. The movie is based on a non-fiction book called Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi, who also took part in writing the screenplay.

The cast of the film includes Robert de Niro, Kevin Pollak, James Wood, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, etc. Casino revolves around Sam, or Ace, Rothstein, played by Robert de Niro, a Jewish American handicapper who is asked to oversee casino and hotel operations at Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas.

Casino was released on November 22, 1995, by Universal Picture. Upon its release, it garnered quite a positive response from critics. It was also a worldwide box office success and grossed around $10 million during its opening weekend. 

The Godfather Part II

After the huge success of The Godfather, the second film was inevitable. The Godfather Part II was released in 1974 as an epic crime film. Francis Ford was the producer and director of the film, which was partially based on Mario Puzo’s book The Godfather. 

The cast for this film includes Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, etc. The movie premiered in New York City on December 12, 1974, and initially, the reviews were mixed, but they improved rapidly. 

The Godfather Part II was critically acclaimed, and it was also nominated for eleven Academy Awards. Out of these, it won six awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and more. Robert de Niro won an award for Best Supporting Actor as well. This movie was also the first sequel to win Best Picture.

Thus, The Godfather Part II was just as influential as its predecessors and is considered one of the greatest films of all time. This film and its predecessor have greatly impacted pop culture and are even ranked among the greatest films in American film history.

Silver Linings Playbook

Among Robert de Niro’s more recent impactful films is Silver Linings Playbook. The film was released in 2012 and is a romantic comedy-drama. David O. Russel wrote and directed this film based on the novel Silver Linings Playbook by Mathew Quick, released in 2008. 

The cast of this movie includes Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert de Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, etc. The story follows Patrizio or Pat, a man with bipolar disorder who moves back with his parents after being released from a psychiatric hospital and is determined to win back his estranged wife. 

Upon release, the film was heavily praised and went on to become a critically acclaimed film. Mainly praise was drawn towards the splendid acting and the direction. It received many awards, including eight Academy Award nominations, four Golden Globe Award nominations, three BAFTA nominations, and four Screen Actor Guild nominations.

Silver Linings Playbook is considered a must-watch. It has greatly impacted the pop culture of the 2010s when some of the best romantic comedies were released. 


Joker is a psychological thriller directed and produced by Todd Phillips, who also so wrote the screenplay with Scott Silver. This movie was released in 2019 and is based on the DC comic character Joker, played by Joaquin Phoneix. 

The movie is essentially an origin story for the character as it details how Arthur Fleck, a failed clown, descends into insanity and becomes Joker. In the movie, he is shown to start a counter-cultural revolution against the wealthy living in Gotham. 

The film’s cast includes Joaquin Phoneix, Robert de Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Frances Conroy. Joker premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2019. It won the Golden Lion before its release in the States. 

Overall, the movie was extremely well received, and people praised the actors heavily for their acting. It was also a box office success and grossed over $1 billion, making it the first R-rated film to do so. 

Joker was also nominated for eleven Academy Awards, and it won Best Actor and Bets Original Score. Due to its origins in DC comics, the Joker greatly impacted the pop culture of 2019. It was the only thing people could talk about for months, and even years after its release, it is called one of the best films to be released from the DC universe. 


Robert de Niro is an excellent actor and producer who has made his name in the industry through the immense talent he possesses. He has managed to make every role of his come to life and significantly impact pop culture. 

Among the many movies he has partaken in, the Joker, Silver Linings Playbook, and Raging Bull remain three of his most popular works, which are included in countless lists of must-watch movies of all time.