Great Characters Wiki
Great Characters Wiki

Jake LaMotta is the protagonist villain of the 1980 film Raging Bull, directed by Martin Scorsese. He is based on the real life boxer of the same name.

He was portrayed by Robert De Niro.

Why He Rocks

  1. Jake's anger performances have strong raw honesty that's rarely ever captured in cinema. The boxing scenes are contrasted with a minimalist shooting style in the domestic scenes. When LaMotta is in a marital dispute or bickering with his brother, the camera takes in the reality and humanity of the scene.
  2. Keeping up with Martin Scorsese's tradition of having tortured, violent, guilt-ridden characters (J.R. from Who's That Knocking at My Door?, Charlie Cappa and Johnny Boy from Mean Streets, Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, and this guy) he manages to be incredibly deep, complex, three-dimensional with his raw surges of guilt, jealousy, and rage and eventually shows just how he has fallen so deep and just what he had lost in the process.
  3. Since Jake LaMotta is based on the real life figure who was personally involved with the project, the audience is left to wonder whether the real LaMotta came out of the slums of the Bronx to become middleweight champion in the 1940s, made and squandered millions of dollars, became a pathetic stand-up comedian, and spent time in a prison for corrupting the morals of an underage girl.
  4. Robert De Niro does a near pitch-perfect portrayal as LaMotta. Aside from perfectly displaying the emotional moments, he also had a record-breaking weight gain just to get the role -- 60 lb! And he donned a prosthetic nose as well. Now that's dedication. Needless to say, De Niro earned that acting Academy Award.
  5. The step-by-step scenes through various stages of Jake's life are shown in vast and rich detail, allowing the audience to get fully invested in LaMotta’s emotions, behavior, and state of mind at that point in his life.
  6. For all of his personal faults, at least he's proven to be an incredible boxer, and he even had an undefeated winning streak at one point. Then there's that fight he had won against Sugar Ray Robinson along with his six victorious boxing matches from 1944 to 1947.
  7. He shares excellent (abusive) chemistry with his younger brother Joey. (This makes sense considering the actors, De Niro and Pesci actually lived together, so their sibling relationship feels strong and genuine.)


  • Robert De Niro, the actor who played Jake, won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1980.