Even 47 years after its initial release, Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” continues to be considered a turning point in film history. One of the key films of the New Hollywood movement, “Taxi Driver” ushered in an era of morally dubious antiheroes and films that offered unflinching insights into society’s plight. Robert De Niro’s legendary performance as deranged taxi driver Travis Bickle also provided a template for generations of actors and filmmakers to create psychologically complex characters radicalized by their inner demons.
Although the film remains one of his most celebrated works, Scorsese isn’t thrilled with how much life has imitated art. In a new interview with GQ, the director looked back at many of the iconic film characters he helped create over the last five decades. As the conversation turned to “Taxi Driver,” Scorsese lamented the prevalence of real people battling the same demons that plagued Bickle.
“We always thought about the character and his loneliness and his acting without condoning the acting, but he acts, and yet he develops empathy with him, which is really difficult,” Scorsese said. “Ultimately, what stuck with us was the psychological and emotional state of this character. Tragically, as we now know, it is a norm for every other person to be like Travis Bickle.”
Taxi Driver recently returned to the news when rumors began circulating that De Niro would be reprising his role from the film in a new commercial for Uber. Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader spoke harshly after hearing the rumor, writing on Facebook: “Why Bob would do that I can’t imagine.” But I didn’t see it. If I’m lucky, I never will.”
Both Uber and De Niro representatives soon tried to dispel the rumors. While both parties confirmed that they are collaborating on a British commercial, they denied that De Niro would play Travis Bickle in the commercial. “We are filming with Robert De Niro in London for a new Uber UK campaign launching later this year,” the company said in a statement.