We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Robert De Niro once told off Leonardo DiCaprio, and here’s why

Legendary actor Robert De Niro once had to tell a young Leonardo Di Caprio off on the set of the movie This Boy's Life, and here's why.

Robert De Niro in Little Fockers

Both Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio are considered Hollywood legends today having made some of the best movies of all time between them. But when the two actors worked together on This Boy’s Life, it’s safe to say De Niro was in charge after it’s revealed he had to tell a young DiCaprio off on set.


The ‘90s movie was one of DiCaprio’s first big screen roles, and being a young upstart at the time, he got a little too cocky one day during the shoot. DiCaprio, just 16-years-old at the time of production on the drama movie, thought it would be a good idea to crack a joke at the expense of co-stars De Niro and Ellen Barkin.

Speaking to David Letterman way back in 1995, DiCaprio revealed what happened when De Niro pulled him to one side to discuss his cheeky comments.

Apparently, De Niro and Barkin had the whole set in hysterics, but DiCaprio felt that he should be the one cracking wise and getting the attention instead. So, when the cameras cut for a take, DiCaprio jokingly asked his co-stars “Can we be a little more professional? You’re laughing all the time, I have things to do.”

Now, De Niro felt his young apprentice could do with learning a lesson, so he took him to the side and DiCaprio recalled how he told him: “There’s a certain line, with the jokes, and you shouldn’t cross that line ‘cos sometimes you can’t go back, you know?”

YouTube Thumbnail

De Niro is a pretty scary guy. You only have to see his turns in thriller movies like Cape Fear and Taxi Driver to know you probably shouldn’t piss him off. So, young DiCaprio admitted he was rightly terrified, adding “My heart was down to my butt.”

“I don’t know if he was actually mad at me or just wanted to change the tempo. I have a feeling it was a bit of both. But he forgave me for it, actually,” DiCaprio explained.

For more throwbacks, check out our list of the best ’80s movies or the best ‘90s TV shows.