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In Raging Bull, he gained and lost 60 pounds in order to portray boxer Jake LaMotta. In Taxi Driver, he stood in an army fatigue jacket before a mirror, rehearsing those unforgettable lines, "Are you talkin' to me? I don't see anybody else here. You talkin' to me?" In Cape Fear, he scared the daylights out of movie audiences with a portrayal of a vengeful ex-con that seemed so real it left you wondering where the acting stopped and reality began. And now, in a complete change of pace, in the box office comedy hit Meet the Parents, he portrays a maniacally overprotective father who grills his prospective son-in-law with the aid of a lie detector!

Over the last 27 years, Robert DeNiro has played a wide range of roles—everything from drama, to comedy, to horror—a range much broader than most actors are willing to take on. Rather than stay in a niche, cornering the market on a certain style or type of role, DeNiro has taken chances. Critics and fellow actors alike agree, however, that whatever role he attempts, DeNiro literally becomes the character he is playing. Another thing they seem to agree on is that while the characters he plays become real, it is very difficult to get in touch with the man behind the character. He's described as an elusive individual who reveals very little about himself or his private life.

Let's use astrology to see if we can peer through the camouflage and find the real Robert DeNiro. He was born August 17, 1943, at 3:00 am in Brooklyn, New York. His Sun (the core identity and basic energy) is in Leo, the sign of the actor. Leos love drama on and off camera, and have no trouble commanding center stage. The Moon (his personality and emotional nature) is in sensitive, amorphous Pisces—a sign known for empathy, which is the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

Essence and Form

The difference between the Sun and the Moon in an individual's horoscope is the difference between essence and form. While the Sun represents our essential nature, we need the Moon to give it form. Robert DeNiro's essence is to act. He was born to perform. With the Moon in free-flowing Pisces, there is no limit to the forms into which he can pour his essence. Alteration of appearance, speech, weight and gait is no problem for no-boundary Pisces. With the Moon near his Pisces Midheaven, a major career point in the horoscope, this trait had a strong influence on his choice of vocation.

The Moon is even more powerful in DeNiro's horoscope because it rules the Ascendant. In astrology, each of the planets is given rulership over a certain sign. The Moon is the ruler of Cancer, and DeNiro's chart has Cancer rising on the Ascendant. The Ascendant is the most personal point in a horoscope, representing our modus operandi, or way of relating to the world, and even our physical appearance.

It is interesting to observe that when Cancer rises in someone’s chart, the individual is normally of a pale complexion, reflecting, perhaps, the pale light of the Moon itself. In his childhood, DeNiro was known around Little Italy in New York as "Bobby Milk," because of his pallor. He was a shy kid who preferred books to friends, but was able to overcome his timidity at age ten for his first stage role in a school play. Fittingly for a Leo with a Pisces Moon, he played the cowardly lion in "The Wizard of Oz."

The Method

Looking further, DeNiro has Mercury and Venus conjunct in Virgo. Mercury is in charge of thinking and working, while Venus describes our artistic abilities. Placed together in a conjunction, these two energies work together in methodical Virgo. In preparation for his acting career, while he worked in dinner theaters and off-Broadway in the 1960s, he studied method acting with Lee Strasberg. So while DeNiro's ability to shift from one persona to another may seem easy, if not a little weird, there is definitely a method to his madness.

Saturn, the planet that represents achievement and our urge to control, is another key planet in DeNiro's chart. It is located in the Twelfth House, which can indicate an individual who prefers to maintain control by keeping separate. DeNiro may have chosen to deliberately hide behind his characters as a way of avoiding revealing too much about himself, as a defensive measure.

Nevertheless, DeNiro's breakthrough performance was in 1973 in the TV drama Bang the Drum Slowly, in which he played dying baseball player Bruce Pearson. It was the year of DeNiro's Saturn return, when Saturn completed its first full cycle around the horoscope, returning to the place in the sky it occupied at his birth. The last 27 years have been the fulfillment of a second Saturn career cycle that will conclude in July 2002. DeNiro may go in a new direction at that time, perhaps devoting his full attention to his Tribeca Film Center, a company dedicated to promoting film production in New York.

Currently, with transiting Jupiter conjuncting Uranus in his Eleventh House and Pluto sending a harmonious trine to Jupiter in his second, DeNiro's popularity and financial success are at a new high. But between January and April 2001, with Saturn conjuncting his Mars and Neptune opposing Pluto in his Second House of money, DeNiro should consider carefully any investments in risky projects, otherwise acrimonious disputes with those he thought were friends could be the result.

To sum it up, Robert DeNiro is the essential actor's actor with the ability to choose at will the form his creativity will take. With his Virgo planets providing the method, and Saturn in control behind the scenes, Robert DeNiro is truly the master of form and essence.



John M. Whalen is freelance writer, astrologer, and editor of a business publication based in Washington, D.C. He writes about film, TV, music and travel for various magazines and newspapers. He contributed a chapter on the life and films of director Sam Peckinpah to the new book, The Astrology of Film: The Interface of Movies, Myth, and Archetype.

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For more information about John Whalen, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by John Whalen:

  • Astro-Zen   3/10/2012
  • Astro-Zen   9/10/2004
  • Polarized Politics   8/20/2004
  • Saturn and the Vanquishing of Illusion   11/3/2003
  • The Grand Illusion   1/9/2003
  • Two Degrees of Scorpio   10/10/2002
  • Venus Elements   2/14/2002
  • Timothy McVeigh: The Day of Judgment   5/9/2001
  • Kevin Spacey: A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma   4/9/2001
  • Keanu Reeves' Excellent Adventure   3/8/2001
  • Steven Soderbergh: Putting the Cuffs on Oscar   3/5/2001
  • The Christmas Eclipse: Bringing Your Heart's Desire   12/25/2000
  • Sylvester Stallone: A Fallen Star, Rising Again?   10/28/2000
  • Yasser, Ehud, Can We Talk?   8/31/2000
  • Alec Guinness: Reluctant Jedi   8/19/2000
  • Human Genetics: O Brave New World!   8/16/2000
  • Survivor: Candid Camera Runs Amok   7/8/2000
  • Samuel L. Jackson: Shaft for the New Millennium   7/1/2000
  • Jackie Chan: Fearless Aries with the Comic Touch   6/23/2000

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