Robert De Niro advised his moviemaking pal Martin Scorsese to work with LEONARDO DiCaprio when the actor was still in the early stages of his career.

Scorsese and DiCaprio first teamed up on 2002's Gangs Of New York and have since worked together on a further four films including new blockbuster The Wolf Of Wall Street.

The director has now revealed Hollywood veteran De Niro was the one who first alerted him to the potential of the young actor after working with him on 1993's This Boy's Life.

Scorsese says, "Robert De Niro told me, 'By the way, I'm working with this young kid. He's really good. You should work with him sometime. His name is DiCaprio.' And I said, 'Ok.' The last collaboration I did with De Niro was (1995 film) Casino, which was our eighth film. It's been different since. We don't see each other that often. So, for him to recommend somebody, out of the blue, that way to me, during a phone call, was very, very special."

The acclaimed filmmaker insists it was DiCaprio's role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape that finally convinced him of the actor's talent, as his performance was so good Scorsese thought he was watching a documentary.

He adds, "I hadn't seen What's Eating Gilbert Grape in the theatre, but I happened to catch part of it on television, on one of the film channels. Myself and my wife were watching it, and I thought it was a documentary. I didn't know. I didn't recognise Johnny (Depp). The mother was great. And I was amazed by (Leo). And then, I realised that it was actually a staged film. I thought, 'Who's that boy?' We saw the name, and it was the name that De Niro told me about."