What Religion is Robert De Niro?

Robert De Niro, an iconic figure in the film industry, has always fascinated fans with his versatile acting skills and enigmatic personality. However, one aspect that often intrigues many is his religious beliefs. This article delves into the question: What religion is Robert De Niro? We’ll explore his background, statements, and any religious influences that have shaped his life and career.

Robert De Niro: Early Life and Background

Early Life and Cultural Influences

Robert Anthony De Niro Jr. was born on August 17, 1943, in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan, New York City. He was the only child of painters Virginia Admiral and Robert De Niro Sr., who divorced when he was two years old. De Niro’s upbringing in an artistic household in a culturally diverse neighborhood played a significant role in shaping his worldview.

Family Background

Robert De Niro’s father was of Italian and Irish descent, and his mother was of English, German, French, and Dutch ancestry. This blend of cultural backgrounds likely provided De Niro with a rich tapestry of cultural and religious perspectives.

Influence of His Parents

Both of De Niro’s parents were atheists, and their approach to religion was more intellectual and artistic rather than devout. However, De Niro Sr. explored various religious philosophies and even practiced Zen Buddhism later in his life.

Education and Early Interests

De Niro attended several schools, including the High School of Music & Art, but he dropped out at the age of 16 to pursue acting. His early life in New York City exposed him to a multitude of cultural and religious experiences, which later influenced his acting career.

Robert De Niro’s Personal Beliefs

Public Statements on Religion

Robert De Niro has generally kept his personal beliefs private, which has led to much speculation about his religious views. However, there are a few instances where he has shared insights into his beliefs.

Interviews and Public Appearances

In various interviews, De Niro has mentioned that he respects all religions but does not subscribe to any particular one. He has often expressed a sense of spiritual curiosity rather than a commitment to organized religion.

De Niro on Faith and Spirituality

In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, De Niro stated, “I think there’s a God, but I’m not sure.” This ambivalence towards the existence of a higher power reflects a more agnostic viewpoint, where he acknowledges the possibility of a divine presence but remains uncertain.

Influence of Roles and Movies

Religious Themes in His Films

De Niro’s filmography includes several roles that explore deep religious and spiritual themes. For example, his portrayal of a Jesuit priest in “The Mission” (1986) required him to delve into the complexities of faith and redemption.

Overview of Robert De Niro’s Religious Beliefs and Influences

Early LifeBorn to atheist parents, exposed to diverse cultural and religious philosophies.
Personal BeliefsGenerally agnostic, respects all religions, expresses spiritual curiosity.
Influence of RolesPortrayed religious characters, engages deeply with roles exploring faith and spirituality.
Family LifeMarried twice, six children, likely inclusive and open-minded approach to religion in family.
PhilanthropyCo-founded Tribeca Film Festival, supports various charitable organizations reflecting humanitarian values.

Key Films with Religious Themes

Film TitleRoleReligious Theme
The MissionJesuit priestFaith, redemption, spirituality
Taxi DriverTravis BickleMorality, existential crisis
Cape FearMax CadySin, punishment, redemption
Mean StreetsJohnny BoyCatholic guilt, morality
Raging BullJake LaMottaRedemption, self-destruction

The Role of Religion in De Niro’s Life

Family and Personal Life

Marriage and Children

De Niro has been married twice and has six children. His first wife, Diahnne Abbott, with whom he has one child, is an actress and singer. His second wife, Grace Hightower, is an actress and philanthropist. While there is little public information about the religious upbringing of his children, it is evident that De Niro’s approach to religion in his family life is likely inclusive and open-minded.

Community Involvement

Robert De Niro is also known for his involvement in various philanthropic efforts. While these activities are not directly tied to religious organizations, they reflect a commitment to humanitarian values often associated with many religious teachings.

Philanthropy and Humanitarian Efforts

Tribeca Film Festival

In 2002, De Niro co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival in response to the September 11 attacks, aiming to revitalize Lower Manhattan. This initiative showcases his dedication to community and cultural enrichment, values often emphasized in various religious traditions.

Other Charitable Activities

De Niro supports several charitable organizations, including the Film Foundation and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. His philanthropic endeavors highlight a commitment to social justice and humanitarian causes, aligning with principles of compassion and service found in many faiths.


Robert De Niro’s religious beliefs remain a blend of curiosity, respect, and personal reflection rather than adherence to a specific faith. His upbringing in a culturally rich and diverse environment, combined with his career in exploring complex human characters, has shaped a nuanced perspective on spirituality. De Niro’s life and work embody a sense of openness and respect for all religious beliefs, reflecting a broader humanistic approach.


Q1: What religion was Robert De Niro raised in?

A1: Robert De Niro was raised in an artistic and intellectual environment where his parents were atheists. He was exposed to various cultural and religious philosophies but was not brought up in any specific religion.

Q2: Has Robert De Niro ever identified with a particular religion?

A2: No, Robert De Niro has not publicly identified with a particular religion. He has expressed respect for all religions and a sense of spiritual curiosity.

Q3: Did Robert De Niro convert to any religion later in life?

A3: There is no public record of Robert De Niro converting to any specific religion later in life. He maintains a more agnostic view, acknowledging the possibility of a higher power without committing to any organized faith.

Q4: What roles has Robert De Niro played that involve religious themes?

A4: Robert De Niro has played several roles involving religious themes, including a Jesuit priest in “The Mission” and characters in other films that explore faith, redemption, and spirituality.

Q5: How does Robert De Niro’s approach to religion influence his philanthropic efforts?

A5: While not directly tied to any religion, Robert De Niro’s philanthropic efforts reflect humanitarian values such as compassion, community service, and social justice, principles often found in various religious teachings.


  1. The Guardian. (2010). Interview with Robert De Niro.
  2. IMDb. Robert De Niro Biography.
  3. Tribeca Film Festival. About Us.
  4. Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Supporters.

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