Beyond being the owner of an enormous talent, if there is a detail that has made the characters of Robert De Niro In some of the most influential and legendary films it is the commitment and preparation that he dedicates to each one. Bob began his career studying drama with the respected Stella Adler and the legendary method teacher Lee Strasberg, cementing his style to this type of acting that encourages sincere and emotionally expressive performances. AND it was thanks to becoming a “method” actor, studying their characters, living them through their professions or resorting to their own physical transformation, that De Niro left us unforgettable roles as in Wild Bull, The Godfather II, Taxi Driver or, the movie that concerns us, Cape of fear. Which is exactly 30 years old since its original release.
The dedication he has had to get into each character has led him to do extreme things. Truly extreme.
This year Cape of fear It makes us feel a little older when it turns thirty years after its original premiere in November 1991 (it just arrived in Spain in March of the following year). I recently saw it again, meeting one of the best thrillers of the 90s and the best tribute to Alfred Hitchcock that I have seen in my entire life. The experience of seeing it again imbued me with such passion for film that I can only recommend that you do so as well. In Spain you can find it at of the movie (or in purchase and rent in payment platforms).
The film was the seventh collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, although initially the project was to be directed by Steven Spielberg. However, the director of E.T. finally decided that the idea was too violent and chose to do change with your friend exchanging projects: Scorsese relented Schindler’s List and Spielberg gave him the libretto of Cape of fear.
Robert De Niro was always the first choice for the role of rapist, stalker, and psychopath Max Cady (although in the early stages with Spielberg at the helm, the filmmaker wanted Bill Murray), while Scorsese wanted Harrison Ford as lawyer Sam Bowden. In history we know that Bowden had been Cady’s attorney in a rape trial and had secretly suppressed a report accusing the teenage victim of promiscuous. After serving his sentence, Cady goes out ready to seek revenge by harassing him, his wife and above all, his 15-year-old daughter (with two wonderful Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis).
Well, Ford didn’t want the role, basically because he wanted to be the psychopath (and I feel sorry for him, but after seeing De Niro it is impossible to imagine another actor doing it better). Scorsese refused and gave the role of the lawyer to Nick Nolte, with whom he had already worked in New York Stories.
And if to play a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather II Robert De Niro learned Italian; yes for Taxi Driver drove a taxi all over New York to delve into the character’s universe, and if to wild bull gained 27 kilos, learned to box and spent hours and days with Jake Lamotta, to Cape of fear it was not going to be less.
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He trained steadily and firmly to develop muscles that made him look strong and menacing in all the scenes that he appears shirtless The idea was that, in this way, he would look stronger than Nick Nolte who was physically taller than him. And in addition to preparing the character with all his aggressiveness, malice and violence, he also chose to transform his smile to make it even more threatening.
In addition to working on the accent and transmitting that terrifying psychopathy of the character (terrifying because it is more real than other psychopaths in the cinema) De Niro visited the dentist and asked him to file his teeth. He paid $ 5,000 to make them look more worn, small but sharp, and upon completion of production he paid $ 20,000 to have them fixed.
It is true that other actors have also played with their teeth for the love of work. Johnny Depp donned gold crowns to bring Captain Sparrow to life, Brad Pitt removed his crowns of perfect teeth to Fight club and Shia LaBeouf removed a tooth to Steel hearts. Although if there was another who went extreme it was Nicolas Cage who to play a Vietnam veteran in Birdy He took advantage of two extractions that he had planned with his dentist to get into the character’s pain, asking that they do it without anesthesia.
But spending $ 25,000 and going through the pain of getting all your teeth touched up twice undoubtedly places Robert De Niro as the actor who has taken his mouth as far as possible. Curiously, after learning about this anecdote, I spent watching the movie again paying more attention to his speech and his teeth, discovering how much that treatment had to do with such an effective transformation.
And so, feeling more menacing with his filed teeth, De Niro left us one of the living memes in the history of cinema. Or who has not ever played repeating his “Lawyer … lawyer?“
Cape of fear was a remake of the 1962 thriller noir directed by J. Lee Thompson – based in turn on the novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald- where Robert Mitchum played the psychopath Cady and Gregory Peck was the lawyer. However, unlike the usual remakes that hardly ever do justice to the original works, here De Niro took the character to more violent and threatening levels than Mitchum while the film overall is more terrifying and dark thanks, above all, to the Scorsese’s experimentation playing Alfred Hitchcock.
The film not only features the soundtrack of the director’s regular composer Psychosis, Bernard Herrmann – later retouched by Elmer Bernstein – but rather Martin lets himself be influenced by the visual style of the master of suspense, resorting to camera angles typical of him (such as opposing two characters in the foreground from different distances), shadows in the form of silhouettes, sharp editing changes and a constant feeling that breathes airs hitchcocknianos.
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This is how Robert de Niro spent $ 25,000 on his teeth to push his role to the limit in ‘Cape Fear’