There have been long-standing rumors that Robert De Niro was meant to play the lead role in the 1988 classic, "Big," and now the actor has finally explained why he did not appear in the film.
Speaking with Jimmy Fallon Monday on "The Tonight Show," the actor said there were negotiation problems that ultimately led to Tom Hanks being cast instead as the adult version of Josh, the lead character that transforms into an adult after making a wish.
The revelation came while answering a series of true or false questions with Fallon.
"In the 1988 movie Big, you were originally cast as Josh, the role that ended up going to Tom Hanks. Is that true?" Fallon asked, according to the U.K.’s Mirror. After a pause, De Niro confirmed the rumor.
"Yes, but we had a thing, an issue with the negotiations, so it went the way it went. But that was fine."
De Niro also opened up about auditioning for the role of Sonny Corleone in "Godfather." The part went to James Caan instead.
"You won your first Oscar for Godfather II playing a young Vito Corleone, but that almost never happened because you actually auditioned for the role of Sonny Corleone in the first Godfather, which went to James Caan. Is that true?" Fallon asked.
"Yes. Everybody was up for Michael [Corleone], but everybody knew that Al [Pacino] was gonna do it, that Francis wanted him," De Niro said. "I wanted to do the Sonny part, too, and I read for it, but I think Francis was pretty set on Jimmy Caan, too. But they let me read."
During the conversation, the topic of De Niro's famous "You talkin' to me" line from Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" came up. It has been reported that De Niro ad-libbed the line, which was said to have not been in the original script. Speaking with Fallon, he confirmed that this was "more or less true."
"Is that the line that people yell out to you the most when they see you?" the host asked him.
"Sometimes, yes," De Niro replied. "From odd places, a bunch of kids pull up to me. I remember many years ago in LA, down in the Valley or somewhere, a bunch of kids pulled up to me at a red light, and said: 'you talkin' to me?' I don't know how they recognized me or whatever."
"Taxi Driver" is a film that has drawn speculation, not just for De Niro's oneliner, but for the ending as well. Some believe that the main character, Travis Bickle, died and that the hazy closing sequence of the killer, as a hero back behind the wheel, is a fantasy of the afterlife. Speaking about this with The Guardian in a 2013 interview, De Niro said it was an "interesting theory."'
"I know that was not the intention, but it's as valid as anything," he said.
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