While Martin Scorsese is the master of filmmaking, Robert De Niro epitomizes fine acting. It can be encapsulated by saying that every Scorsese needs a De Niro. These two veterans of the film industry are legends in their own right. But together, they bring unique magic to the screen, and their collaborative projects are proof of it. Recently, the actor-director duo’s 1973 crime drama film “Mean Streets” completed 50 years. On the auspicious day of its golden jubilee, the celebration took place Saturday at the Beacon Theatre. The screening was followed by a conversation between Scorsese and De Niro, moderated by legendary rapper Nas. During the conversation, the two industry veterans reflected on their bond and shared how they initially crossed paths.

How did the iconic duo Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro first meet?

Considered one of the greatest and most influential actors of his generation, acclaimed actor Robert De Niro is prominently known for his collaboration with filmmaker Martin Scorsese. The iconic actor-director duo first teamed up for the 1973 film “Mean Streets.” The film has recently completed its 50th anniversary, and during the commemoration at the Beacon Theatre, Scorsese shared insights about his decades-long journey with De Niro. The director revealed that their introduction first came at a Christmas dinner, where they were urged into conversation by another to-be-legendary filmmaker, Brian De Palma. Interestingly, both De Niro and Scorsese grew up just two blocks away and heard talk of each other in the neighborhood. But they had never been properly introduced until that fateful night.

Scorsese recounted,

“Bob was sitting there after dinner and then he looked at me and they had gone inside or something. He said, ‘You used to hang out with so-and-so and so-and-so.’ I said, ‘Yeah, how do you know?’ And he said, ‘I’m Bobby.’ I said, ‘Bobby? Bobby. Oh, my God. We had seen De Palma after doing “Hi, Mom!” After you did that, he said, “You got to meet this guy.”‘ Then he had seen ‘Who’s That Knocking,’ and it was very accurate as to the nature of that subculture in the neighborhood. He identified with that, so when ‘Mean Streets’ was finally put together, he came on.”

It has been almost five decades, and the relationship between De Niro and Scorsese still flourishes. When Nas asked the pair about how they’ve been able to foster such a close professional relationship, they said it was due to the personal trust they bring on set. De Niro said,

“Marty, he’s always been not afraid to try the thing, so that said, you just do it. And we had it, we would talk about it, actually in more conversation, but also we talked about parallels in whatever we were in, in our experiences that we could then put into the film. ‘This scene is like this, I remember something happened to me, blah blah blah.’ ‘Well, let’s try this because it’s not the actual thing, but this is like that experience.’”

Mean Streets won De Niro the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as “Johnny Boy” Civello. It was also Scorsese’s first critical and commercial success. In 1997, “Mean Streets “was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, which deemed it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

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