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Leonardo DiCaprio’s Chair-Throwing Moment: How Robert De Niro Taught the Titanic Star a Lesson in Humility


“I just stood up and threw my chair”: Leonardo DiCaprio Was Humbled by Robert De Niro After Titanic Star Lost His Temper With 79 Year Old Oscar Winner

Years before Leonardo DiCaprio became a household name with James Cameron’s Titanic, the actor had the privilege of acting alongside one of the greatest actors of today – Robert De Niro. The 1993 film, This Boy’s Life, saw Leonardo DiCaprio play the role of Toby, the stepson of Robert De Niro’s Dwight Hansen.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro

While the two had a toxic relationship in the film, their off-screen relationship was pretty much the opposite. Robert De Niro was nothing but a mentor for the young actor. Leonardo DiCaprio recalled the time when he was auditioning for This Boy’s Life and in order to stand out from the boys that auditioned, he decided to heat things up in the room.

Leonardo DiCaprio Recalls His This Boy’s Life Audition

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in This Boy's Life

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in This Boy’s Life

This Boy’s Life was Leonardo DiCaprio’s first big role and he got to do it alongside Robert De Niro. However, the young actor had to do something that would increase his chances for the role. After all, he was just one out of the four hundred boys who auditioned. In the audition, DiCaprio had to act out the painful-to-watch “Is it empty?” scene from the film where Dwight was physically abusive toward Toby.

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In an interview with Deadline, DiCaprio recalled how in order to “rattle” their cages and be memorable, the actor took a route where his character lost his temper and just erupted out at De Niro’s character.

“I remember there was this mustard jar sequence, and just thinking to myself, ‘S*it, I’ve got to do something memorable. I’ve got to do something to just rattle these people’s cages’…[De Niro]’s like, ‘Is it empty, is it empty?’ and I just stood up and threw my chair down, or something, and screamed at him, ‘No, it’s not empty!’ And then Bob had this smirk on his face and just started slowly busting up, laughing in my face. And then he looked at everybody else, and the whole room started laughing.”

De Niro’s unexpected reaction might have humbled DiCaprio down a bit who thought he blew his shot. The Inception actor continued that while he was nervous and absolutely sure that he wouldn’t be called back, De Niro was actually quite impressed.

“I was like, ‘Holy s*it, I blew it. I blew this. I blew this whole opportunity.’ But I guess at 15 you misunderstand. I guess they kind of liked it, because Bob was like, ‘That kid was…there’s something interesting there.’ And they brought me back.”

Looks like losing his temper for the role worked out for DiCaprio, didn’t it? The actor once recalled how working with De Niro was one of the most “influential experiences” of his life.

Robert De Niro is Proud of Leonardo DiCaprio

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

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Needless to say, DiCaprio had a blast collaborating with the renowned actor. But what does De Niro think of his co-star? De Niro is once again reuniting with DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. Talking to Access about Killers of the Flower Moon at the 2023 Tribeca Festival, De Niro opened up about what it was like reuniting with DiCaprio and Scorsese.

“I am so proud of Leo, he’s doing great. It was finally, it was finally a time where we can do a movie together with this film and I hope we can do another movie together with Marty. It was a great experience.”

De Niro sure does not want Killers of the Flower Moon to be the last project of the trio as he hopes for more in the future. Well, it’s not like we are complaining! The film is the 6th feature film collab between Scorsese and DiCaprio and the 10th between Scorsese and De Niro.


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