Robert De Niro Acted Like a Total Diva on the Set of Goodfellas
Robert De Niro took his acting game to a whole different level for 1990’s Goodfellas.
Martin Scorsese’s biopic crime drama Goodfellas is one to remember. With an all-star cast and a beautifully written story, the movie was always meant to be successful in the years to come – and it was.
Goodfellas has come a long way since its 1990 debut, but it remains one of the greatest gangster films in history. De Niro was fortunate to play one of the leads Jimmy Conway, a character that was inspired by the real-life crook James Burk, best known under the alias Jimmy the Gent.
The movie perfectly encapsulates the essence of the mafia, and that’s all thanks to the cast and crew who wanted to keep things as authentic as possible. De Niro himself has always been the old-fashioned type of actor – the one who strived to dive into the role headfirst to the point of becoming his character for the time being.
That’s what happened with his Jimmy Conway. The Goodfellas star wanted his performance to be as believable as possible, and there was one obstacle on his way to achieve that. This might sound weird, but De Niro reportedly didn’t appreciate that he had to use prop money for his scenes in the film, saying that it took him out of the gangster experience.
Instead, the actor insisted that they had to have real dollar bills on set. Considering that the mafia dealt with quite a lot of money, De Niro’s request was not easy to fulfill. Fortunately, Robert Griffon, the Goodfellas prop master, found a rather risky solution to the problem.
He actually withdrew up to $5,000 from his own account and gave all of it to De Niro for the scenes where the characters had to have a lot of cash on their hands. Now that’s the dedication to your job!
Anyway, De Niro’s bizarre request was fulfilled, and Goodfellas could now boast having the most authentic mafia scenes. Here is one of them.
However, such large amounts of money also required extreme caution on the set. Therefore, Goodfellas had a peculiar rule: no one was allowed to call it a day and leave until all the cash had been counted and returned to its rightful owner.