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He has won two Oscars, the first for his classic portrayal of young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, the second for his intense performance as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. In 2011 he won the Cecil B. DeMille award recognizing a lifetime of contribution to the world of film. He is also an award-winning restaurateur and a successful businessman who is only expanding his already impressive holdings. And he is an intensely private man.

I'm speaking, of course, of Robert De Niro.

One of my goals as the editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado magazine is to bring you into the world of truly unique people. People who don't normally sit for interviews. People whose inside stories have largely gone untold. Over the years, I've sat down and interviewed:

• 1994: Cuban leader Fidel Castro
• 1995: Business mogul Ronald O. Perelman
• 2003: Movie director Francis Ford Coppola
• 2003: American General Tommy Franks
• 2005: Basketball legend Michael Jordan
• 2008: Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan

Robert De Niro is the seventh in this series.

We are all big fans of his work, and it was a joy to go back and watch a number of his films while preparing for this interview. A special note, I never realized he was in so many movies—95 and counting. Also, his involvement in the business world, especially in restaurants and hotels, is both interesting and surprising. 

I've had Robert De Niro on my wish list for a long, long time. Finally, on a quiet afternoon in May, he visited our new offices on Manhattan's West side. The recorders were ready, the camera began clicking, and I started asking my questions.

I'm so proud to have him on my cover, and to share this very special discussion with all of you.