Robert De Niro’s Method dedication was taken to new levels with the story of Jake La Motta, a self-destructive boxer whose violence and temper made and broke his career. Coming off 1978’s Vietnam War saga The Deer Hunter, De Niro altered his physique twice during the making of Raging Bull: first, to the lean muscle of a professional boxer 15 years his junior; and second, to the 50-pounds-heavier La Motta of the late 1950s, a nightclub owner and nearly unrecognizable transformation of his former self. Beyond the physical, De Niro infuses the raging bull with animalistic rage, a man of mantras aching with pain, weakness, jealousy, and ambition—perhaps the actor’s finest performance. Winner of the Best Actor Academy Award.
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