Back in August, writer-director Paul Schrader was promoting his movie The Canyons with an AMA on Reddit, when someone asked whether he had ever been approached to make a sequel to Taxi Driver, the 1976 classic he wrote for director Martin Scorsese and star Robert De Niro. “De Niro suggested that to Marty and I about 15 years ago,” Schrader said, “and I told him it was the dumbest idea that I’ve ever heard. I told him that character had died not more than six months after that movie was over. He was on a death trip and was gonna succeed the next time.”
Despite his collaborator’s reticence, De Niro still hasn’t completely abandoned the idea. The subject of another Taxi Driver movie came up in an interview this week with The Guardian, and De Niro admitted it was still the project of his he’d most like to revisit even though the film is more than 35 years old and one of its major creative forces thinks it’s a horrible concept:
“I had the idea. I said, why don’t we write something? And I talked to Marty and Paul did take a shot at something, whether it was an outline or a script, I forget. But somehow we didn’t feel it was right and it didn’t take off… But I’d like to see where Travis is today. There was something about the guy—all that rage and alienation, that’s what the city can do to you. I mean Marty and I are from New York, and even we can feel alienated.”
According to De Niro, Schrader actually wrote something for the project even he thought it was the dumbest idea he’d ever heard. (Maybe he kept his mind open, tried puzzling it out, and decided there was nothing there.) The De Niro of today seems so far removed from the De Niro of 1976, who would spend a couple months driving a cab around Manhattan as research. But maybe that would give a Taxi Driver sequel an interesting texture. On the off-chance Travis did survive for decades after the events of the film, he would have had to have changed his life in some significant way.
Speaking of Travis surviving for decades, The Guardian’s Xan Brooks also asked De Niro for his opinion on the widely discussed theory that Travis actually dies at the end of Taxi Driver and that his final scenes are some kind of vision of the afterlife. “That’s an interesting theory,” De Niro replied. “I know that was not the intention, but it’s as valid as anything.”