No other actor uses their face quite like Robert De Niro – it's a hypnotic canvas that he can use to express, anger, fear, sympathy and everything in between. It's a skill that has made him one of cinema's greatest purveyors of gangsters, psychos, ne'er do wells and more besides.
The legendary Taxi Driver and Raging Bull actor turns 72 today – so to mark this special occasion, here are De Niro's 5 greatest facial expressions, ones that consolidate him as one of the greatest screen actors ever known. You talkin' to me?
1) Goodfellas (1990)
This iconic moment from regular collaborator Martin Scorsese's mob masterpiece is chilling and compelling, the camera tracking in slowly to mobster Jimmy Conway's face as he plans to 'whack' fellow crim Morrie. Soundtracked to the 1960s Cream classic 'Sunshine of Your Love,' it's one of the most understated yet terrifying moments in De Niro's career.
Once Upon a Time in America (1976)
The haunting conclusion of Sergio Leone's four-hour crime epic doesn't end in a hail of bullets but far more enigmatically, resting on the face of De Niro's ageing gangster Max as he breaks into a mysterious smile. What does it mean? De Niro is such a good actor that the expression can take on a whole host of meanings.
Taxi Driver (1976)
AKA the moment that forever became imitated by angry youngsters the world over. De Niro's troubled, gun-toting loner Travis Bickle acts out an imaginary conversation to his mirror, resulting in that line: "You talkin' to me?"
Midnight Run (1988)
Looking for a truly great De Niro comedy? Then look no further than this criminally underrated, utterly brilliant road trip movie that pairs him with Charles Grodin – with magical results. One of the best moments is this scene, where De Niro's character Jack Walsh bluffs about killing Grodin's Jonathan Mardukas and conveys the lie with a simple, subtle head shake.
The King of Comedy (1983)
Conveying delusion that is borderline psychotic isn't easy. But of course De Niro makes it look just so in Martin Scorsese's pitch-dark celebrity satire, playing deluded aspiring comic Rupert Pupkin. As you can see below, his expression whilst surrounded by cardboard cut-outs of his idols suggests a character who's definitely two cans short of a six pack.
Many happy returns Robert! Have you got a favourite facial expression of his? Tweet us your suggestions @Cineworld.