Robert De Niro appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Monday and the late-night host used the opportunity to grill the actor about various “myths” that surround his career. During the conversation, Fallon went in about one rumor involving De Niro being set to star in the 1988 comedy, BIG, before Tom Hanks landed the role. As it turns out, this is very much true.
During a zoom interview on the show, De Niro responded to the question regarding the rumor by saying “Yes, this is true. But we had a thing, an issue with the negotiations, so it went the way it went. But that was fine.” I’m personally trying to see anyone else in this role other than Tom Hanks and it’s pretty difficult but that is a pretty interesting fun fact.
In the film, directed by Penny Marshall, a young boy named Josh Baskin wishes to be “big” and he soon learns to be careful what he wishes for when he is transformed into an adult overnight. Robert De Niro’s almost involvement with the film actually began circulating back in April when Big’s Elizabeth Perkins shared the same casting news with What Happens Live’s Andy Cohen.
Other truth bombs from De Niro during his appearance on The Tonight Show? De Niro touched on his involvement with the Godfather franchise and even though he ultimately went on to win an Oscar for his performance as young Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II, Fallon heard a rumor that De Niro’s original audition was for the role of Sonny Corleone, a part that went to James Caan in the original Godfather. De Niro confirmed by saying “Everybody was up for Michael Corleone, but everybody knew that Al Pacino was gonna do it, that Francis wanted him. 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.”
De Niro was also asked by Fallon if he ad-libbed his famous “You talkin’ to me?” line from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. I always assumed this to be the case but the actor said, “More or less, yeah.”
Can Robert De Niro share more fun stories about his career? What are YOUR thoughts about him originally being set to lead Big? Could YOU see him in that role?