That was delightfully apparent when De Niro appeared at a New York City news conference alongside Cooper, the film's director, Neil Burger, and its writer/producer, Leslie Dixon. De Niro, like he does in films, was able to steal nearly every moment without saying a word.
In the thriller, opening Friday, De Niro plays a powerful corporate mogul who hires Cooper's character, Eddie Morra, to broker a deal after the writer becomes a Wall Street hot shot when he takes NZT, a drug that allows him to use all of his brain's power.
De Niro agreed to do "Limitless" only after a full-on assault from Cooper, Burger and Nixon. Part of the appeal was that he didn't have to carry the movie. He spent less than 10 days on the set.
"I enjoyed doing it. I wanted to work with Bradley and Neil," he said. "Sometimes even though it's not perfect, you do it to work with people so you can work with them again later on. It was good for me and I put a lot of work into it."
Cooper, who initially met De Niro when he was a student at the Actors Studio, admitted to being a little intimidated by the "Raging Bull" and "Godfather" star. That seems to be a common occurrence when younger actors meet the legend.
"That goes away in a couple of days, if not sooner," De Niro said when asked about his intimidation factor. "You have to work. In fact, any of that kind of stuff you can use. An actor should use it in the interaction [in the scenes]."
De Niro will go back to being "The Man" if a film he's planning on shooting with director Martin Scorsese and fellow Oscar winners Al Pacino and Joe Pesci gets made. It's based on a book called "I Heard You Paint Houses," and chronicles the story of a man who confessed to killing former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.
"I'm going to play that character," De Niro said. "We're really working to make it happen."
Maybe a little NZT might help him get it out of development purgatory?
"Yeah, that's something I wouldn't mind trying," De Niro said with a laugh. "But not getting hooked on it."
MIKI TURNER IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR.