Robert De Niro Dreamed of Reprising His Greatest Role For Over 30 Years
Taxi Driver was a breakout success for the actor, and he has been desperately pitching the idea of a sequel since the 1990s.
- Though in many ways a product of its time, Taxi Driver remains one of the most influential films in history
- Robert De Niro has been floating the idea of a sequel for decades, and at one point it was in the works
- The movie never got off the ground, but the actor still thinks it had potential
The idea of making a long overdue and completely unnecessary sequel to a cult classic movie is always frowned upon by fans, and for good reason, as most of the time the idea comes from the studio that is trying to make money off the fame of a past masterpiece.
However, this is not always the case, as every once in a while we get a sequel many years after the original that actually pays respect to its predecessor, like Blade Runner 2049 and Doctor Sleep, however, such cases are very rare and extremely nuanced.
But what if the idea of creating a forced sequel to a now-classic story comes not from the money-hungry studio, but from the star of the original masterpiece?
Travis Bickle Role Was a Career Breakthrough For Robert De Niro
1976's Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, was a massive breakthrough for both the director and the actor, leaving a massive impact on cinema and popular culture that is hard to underestimate.
While some aspects of the film have become dated and can even be considered extremely problematic, traces of Taxi Driver's influence can still be found in other projects almost half a century later.
The film revolves around Travis Bickle, a Vietnam War veteran who has found himself on the fringes of society after the conflict and is struggling to find his place in life.
Suffering from insomnia, depression and other mental problems, Travis becomes a taxi driver in New York City, spending his time working in the most dangerous parts of the city, dreaming of one day cleaning the streets of all the criminal scum.
Eventually he becomes obsessed with Iris, an underage sex worker portrayed by Jodie Foster, which sets him on a quest to free her from her "employers."
It all ends in violence, as in the film's climax, Travis kills her pimp and other people at the brothel, suffering critical injuries in the process, with the movie ending on an ambiguous note, leaving the viewer wondering if he has survived his crusade.
Taxi Driver Sequel Remains De Niro’s Unattainable Dream
Despite the gritty and open-ended nature of the finale, which made the ending all the more intriguing, De Niro had been fond of the idea of a sequel for years, proposing it to Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader since the 1990s.
According to one of the interviews with the actor, the project was even in development in 2005, and various rumors and reports about it have surfaced here and there for years since then.
However, in 2018, on the eve of the release of The Irishman, one of the many collaborative projects between Scorsese and De Niro that have taken place over the years since 1976, the actor confirmed that despite his best efforts, the Taxi Driver sequel remained an unattainable dream.
Although the project never materialized, De Niro still felt there was potential in continuing Bickle's story, but neither he, Scorsese nor Schrader could find the right angle.
While it would have been interesting to see Travis on the big screen one more time and learn how his attempt to save Iris affected his life, it is most likely for the better.
As mentioned above, one of the things that makes the original so iconic is its ambiguous ending, and resolving the mystery would have taken away some of its charm.