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Robert De Niro Requested Live Cartridge Revolver For The Deer Hunter Russian Roulette Scene

Robert De Niro Requested Live Cartridge Revolver For The Deer Hunter Russian Roulette Scene

Robert De Niro reportedly requested a loaded gun when taking part in the famous Russian roulette scene from The Deer Hunter

Anish Vij

Anish Vij

In one of the most iconic scenes in Hollywood history, Robert De Niro reportedly used a loaded gun for the famous Russian roulette sequence in The Deer Hunter.

According to Michael Cimino - director of the Oscar winning film - De Niro requested a live cartridge revolver for the scene.

As crazy as it sounds, fans of 'Bob' will know how seriously he takes method acting, but perhaps this was taking it one step too far.


Late actor, John Cazale, agreed to go through with the scene without protest, however, obsessively rechecked the gun before each take to make sure that the live round was not next in the chamber, to minimise the risk of getting one's head blown off.

For those unaware, the synopsis for The Deer Hunter reads: "In the backdrop of the US-Vietnam war, three friends who join the army to fight in Vietnam are later captured by the enemy forces.

"They manage to escape but are soon separated and imprisoned again."

In 2018, actor John Savage told the Mirror that De Niro almost died making film.

De Niro and Savage.

In one scene, Savage, De Niro and Walken found themselves pretty knee deep in danger, by dangling from a bridge above the River Kwai, leaving them clinging on for their lives above the rocks 60ft below in the raging river.

Savage added: "We knew we were in trouble when the cables got cut. Amazingly, Chris, who is an athlete and a dancer, pulled himself up and into the helicopter, which flew up leaving Bobby and I hanging from the sliced cable in an absolute panic knowing this could be the end of our lives.

"Bob was right next to me and it's like, 'S***', and he's screaming in my face and I'm looking down, 'What do we do? Should we drop - there's rocks and s*** down there.'

"I was calling Bobby by his character name, yelling 'Michael, Michael, I'm not sure we should drop in the water there.'

"Bobby yells at me: 'Jesus Christ, John.

"Don't call me by my character name. We're f****** going to die here.'


"I started laughing and just said, 'I'm going,' and we looked at one another and both dropped.

"God knows how, but we missed the rocks and the water took us to the side of the production boat below.

"We both stared at one another on deck. Then we looked up to see that the helicopter was wavering as it was stuck to the cable on the bridge, but luckily somebody crawled out and pushed it off.

"Had that not happened, the 'copter could have crashed down on us too."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Robert De Niro, TV and Film