With his breathtaking breakthrough performance in Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets in 1973 he forged an enormously fruitful collaboration - including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas - that, alongside his roles in the likes of The Godfather Part Two, The Dear Hunter and Once Upon a Time in America, reads like a list of the top Hollywood films of the last 30 years. As a 'method' actor De Niro lives and breathes his roles to bring his unique intensity and brooding menace to the screen; be it feasting on pasta to gain 60lbs for Raging Bull or learning to play the saxophone for New York, New York, nothing is beyond him in his pursuit for perfection. But he's certainly not above sending himself up, particularly in recent years, in filmns such as Analyse This and Meet the Parents, where he has honed a previously unheralded talent for comedy acting. De Niro cuts an enigmatic figure off screen, where he is notoriously reluctant to discuss his life , though his relationships with supermodels such as Toukie Smith and his current wife Grace Hightower have often made the news. His forays into the director's chair as well as setting up his own production company, TriBeCa Productions, have seen him more willing to discuss his work, and his political views are clear. He is an active supporter of the Democrat Party, lending his support to Barrack Obama, and has pledged to revitalise the TriBeCa region of New York following the September 11 attacks. Throughout a career that has seen him date Naomi Campbell, live in a mental hospital (for his role in Awakening), work as a taxi driver, beat prostrate cancer and even meet the Fockers, he's always been at the top of his game.