Nearly 20 years after Brian De Palma and Robert De Niro made Hi, Mom!, the actor agreed to take on the role of Al Capone in the director’s slick Prohibition-era gangster movie with very little time to prepare to play the corpulent Chicago crime boss. (In fact, De Niro signed on so late that De Palma had to convince Paramount to buy out their current Capone, Bob Hoskins.) With shooting just five weeks away, De Niro gained about 30 pounds, plucked his hair out, and even tracked down Capone’s original tailors for silk underwear. Although his part, playing against Kevin Costner, Andy Garcia, and an Oscar-winning Sean Connery as the eponymous Feds, is quantifiably small—he is onscreen for less than ten minutes—his floridly wicked Capone stands as one of his most iconic performances of the 1980s.
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