During the two-time Oscar winner’s appearance, Fallon made sure to ask about a rumor that he had once been cast as Josh—the character eventually played by Tom Hanks—in Penny Marshall’s 1988 comedy, Big.
“Yes,” De Niro said, this is true. “But we had a thing, an issue with the negotiations, so it went the way it went. But that was fine.”
As you might recall, Big centers on Josh Baskin, a young boy who makes a wish to be “big,” and learns to be careful what he wishes for, when he is transformed into an adult overnight. News about a potential version of the classic film starring De Niro began circulating widely in April, when Big’s Elizabeth Perkins shared the same account with Watch What Happens Live‘s Andy Cohen.
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While on The Tonight Show to promote his Tribeca Film Festival—which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and kicks off tomorrow—De Niro also touched on a rumor surrounding his involvement in the Godfather franchise. While De Niro would ultimately go on to win an Oscar for his turn as a young Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II, Fallon had heard that the actor’s original audition was for the role of Sonny Corleone, in the original Godfather. (That part would eventually go to James Caan.)
Again, De Niro confirmed. “Everybody was up for Michael [Corleone], but everybody knew that Al [Pacino] was gonna do it, that Francis wanted him,” he told Fallon. “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.”
Finally, De Niro was asked if he ad libbed his famous “You talkin’ to me?” line from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.
“More or less, yeah,” he said.
Check out De Niro’s entire segment with Fallon above.
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