Robert De Niro Explains Why He Dropped Out of the Lead in ‘Big’

Robert De Niro opened up a little bit about his brief involvement with the film Big.

The Oscar-winning actor on Monday dropped by The Tonight Show where he was asked a few true or false questions by host Jimmy Fallon. One of the queries involved the 1988 classic directed by the late Penny Marshall, starring Tom Hanks.

De Niro, shocking some on the late-night audience, said it was true. He was cast to play Josh, the lead version of a teen who makes a wish to instantly become an adult. The actor shed some light on what happened.

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Tom Hanks in ‘Big’ (1988)
Everett Collection

“We had a thing with the negotiation, the thing, so it went the way it went,” De Niro told Fallon. “So, it’s fine.”

Among the other questions was whether he ad libbed his arguably most iconic line in any of his films, Travis Bickle’s “Are you talkin’ to me?” in Taxi Driver. Again, De Niro said it was “more or less” true, adding it is certainly the line he hears the most from fans.

“Sometimes from odd places,” he explained. “I remember years ago in L.A., down in the valley, a bunch of kids pulled up next to me at a red light and say, ‘Are you talkin’ to me?’ I don’t know how they recognized me.”

Watch the full De Niro interview below.