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Paul Schrader Says ‘Taxi Driver’ Sequel Was The “Dumbest” Idea He Ever Heard

Paul Schrader Says 'Taxi Driver' Sequel Was The "Dumbest" Idea He Ever Heard

Paul Schrader, one-time Hollywood screenwriting wunderkind, is back in the news with his new film “The Canyons” (read our review). Back when Martin Scorsese was a a bright young thing sticking it to the studios—this would be in the late ’70s—Schrader was the man feeding him the material, writing “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull,” but with the ’80s Schrader turned to directing, with varying success. From “American Gigolo” to “Cat People” to “Hardcore” to “Auto Focus” all the way to “The Canyons”…it’s been an interesting journey (check out our full retrospective of his directorial efforts).

In a Reddit AMA yesterday, Schrader began to muse not on past projects but on projects that never were, and specifically various potential new Scorsese collaborations that have periodically surfaced and then vanished again over the years. Schrader revealed that at some point in the past, “I did an HBO pilot for [Scorsese] but HOB [sic] passed. We have no other plans,” though of course Scorsese helped “Boardwalk Empire” happen for HBO, without Schrader. It would be interesting to know if this pilot was before or after that.

Schrader also spills some even more interesting beans, relating to “Taxi Driver”: according to him, back in the late ’90s, “[Robert] De Niro suggested [a “Taxi Driver” sequel] to Marty and I about 15 years ago and I told him it was the dumbest idea that I’ve ever heard. I told him that character had died not more than 6 months after that movie was over. He was on a death trip and was gonna succeed the next time.”

It’s hard to argue with Schrader about the characterization, and there was the whole “movie that inspired a Reagan assassination attempt” thing that might have made returning to it a bit awkward. A late ’90s “Taxi Driver” sequel does indeed sound like a staggeringly bad idea, and it’s a little surprising De Niro thought it might fly. But then so does a career twilight spent fumbling your way through Ben Stiller franchises. 

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It's not a surprise that he mentioned Taxi Driver 2. Just Google it — there are articles dating back many years where it has repeatedly resurfaced. At one point Scorsese even publicly expressed an interest in trying to get it made, but after his career renaissance with The Departed onward, it seems like he kind of dropped the idea. It would have indeed been a terrible idea — not to mention the fact that *SPOILER ALERT* the whole ending is perfectly crafted in an enigmatic way as to suggest it should perhaps not be taken literally or at face value. Creating a sequel would throw that ambiguity out the window and make the ending of Taxi Driver a definitive reality. I'd hate that.

Richard Schitz

I wonder if that Von Trier/Scorsese Taxi Driver remake will ever happen… I doubt it.

Smyth E. Alan

'Bringing Out the Dead', which came out around the time these comments are said to have taken place, is a spiritual successor of sorts to 'Taxi Driver' anyway. Perhaps it was borne from this idea.

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