Robert De Niro is one of the most renowned film actors of all time with an on-screen career spanning more than 50 years. Is the Hollywood legend left-handed?
Despite reports that Robert De Niro is left-handed, there are far more examples of him using his right hand to perform tasks in both movies and everyday life. It is possible that he is ambidextrous, or prefers using a different hand, depending on the task he is performing. Another strong possibility is that he is right-handed but has a stronger left eye, a trait known as being “cross-dominant”.
For more about the mystery of Robert De Niro’s handedness and a possible explanation, read on.
One of the main sources of evidence that is referred to frequently is De Niro’s role in the 1978 war drama “The Deer Hunter”.
The film, starring De Niro as a steelworker who returns home after fighting in the Vietnam War, has multiple scenes of his character using a hunting rifle left-handed.
The rifle, a Remington 700 BDL, is also left-handed, with its bolt handle on the left side. De Niro also uses his M16A1 left-handed during the Vietnam scenes of the film, so it isn’t simply a case of the actor needing to adapt to a rifle provided for the film.
What confuses the issue, even more, is that De Niro, who can be seen using handguns right-handed in many of his other films, can also be seen using them right-handed in “The Deer Hunter”.
The most famous example of this is during the film’s iconic “Russian roulette” scene, where the protagonists are forced to fire a semi-loaded revolver at themselves by their captors.
So why would De Niro use rifles left-handed and handguns left-handed, in the same film? The answer is likely more straightforward than De Niro wanting to add a character quirk.
Just as people are generally stronger with one of their hands (about 90% of Americans still favor their right hand to their left), many people also have one eye they prefer to use.
The majority likely don’t even think about this preference; tasks such as looking through a telescope or a camera viewfinder are essentially automatic, but it is very common. While conditions such as amblyopia (commonly known as a “lazy eye”), a smaller disparity in vision between eyes is far more common.
In De Niro’s case, it’s very possible that he is right-handed but has superior vision in his left eye. This trait is sometimes known as being “cross-dominant” or “mixed-dominant”. For day to day tasks where a person can use both eyes, such as writing, there would be no reason for a cross-dominant person to use their weaker hand.
Shooting a rifle over long distances, however, is a delicate task that only requires the use of one eye, so many “left-eyed” people will learn to use their rifle with their left hand even if they are ordinarily right-handed.
If this is the case with De Niro, and it seems the likeliest explanation for his use of alternating hands, it does make him somewhat ambidextrous but only really by necessity and he should probably still be considered right-handed.
There is far more evidence of De Niro using his right hand than his left when it comes to day to day tasks. He writes with his right hand when signing autographs, one of the clearest signals that he is right-handed.
So, while the claims that Robert De Niro is left-handed are probably an exaggeration, he is left-handed when he deems it necessary.