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Robert De Niro has had a long and storied acting career, and gained a lot of fans because of it. Well, they always say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and lots of comedians and, even, other actors like Tom Hiddleston and Bradley Cooper, have paid tribute to De Niro by doing their best impersonations of him. Now, a true friend and frequent collaborator of De Niro’s, Martin Scorsese has added his own interpretation of De Niro’s distinctive speech pattern to the collection. Watch it below.
While appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Martin Scorsese pulled out his best Robert De Niro impression, after speaking about how he feels that he and his good friend "melted into each other, kind of, in a way." He then goes on to reenact one of his favorite scenes with De Niro.
It’s a scene from Goodfellas where Joe Pesci’s character, Tommy, gets so riled up at his old friend, Billy (Frank Vincent), reminding everyone that he used to shine shoes that he breaks his glass on the bar goes after him, ready for a fight. After Henry (Ray Liotta) manages to pull him away from the guy and get Tommy out of the bar, Billy remarks that he didn’t do anything to him. That’s when De Niro’s Jimmy pipes in and tells Billy that he "insulted him a little bit." Which, of course, actually shows what a loose cannon Tommy is, if he can’t take a little bit of ribbing from an old buddy.
Martin Scorsese’s version of Robert De Niro in that scene is basically perfect. He nailed the raised eyebrows in the center showing a sort of concerned bemusement that indicates that De Niro’s character thought the guy was insane for not knowing how easy it is to set Tommy off. Scorsese also nailed the De Niro head nod, which, in this case, says that he also understands that Billy is basically decent, just really misguided when dealing with Tommy, and still needs some additional guidance in the matter. My favorite part of the impression, though, may be Scorsese’s version of a classic De Niro mannerism: the thinned lip. It’s where De Niro presses his lips into a thin line, with the bottom lip folding ever so slightly up over his top lip. It’s a small, knowing gesture that says, "I’m right, and you know it," without De Niro needing to actually vocalize it. Scorsese’s version of the thinned lip was perfection.
I have to say, while most Robert De Niro impersonations can veer toward the cartoonish, Martin Scorsese’s is pitch perfect and very humanizing of his legendary friend. If they weren’t "melted" together after all these years, Scorsese wouldn’t have been able to pull that impression off so well.