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Robert De Niro Celebrates ’40 F*cking Years’ of ‘Taxi Driver’

Robert De Niro Celebrates '40 F*cking Years' of 'Taxi Driver'

READ MORE: The 2016 Indiewire Tribeca Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted During the Festival

It’s been 40 years since the release of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” but four decades of pop culture scrutiny haven’t uncovered ever detail about the legendary film. Just before a special anniversary screening at the Tribeca Film Festival Thursday, actor Robert De Niro acknowledged the impact of his most famous role. “Every day, for 40 fucking years, one of you has stopped me on the street and said ‘you talkin to me?'”  he said. 

In an effort to put the joke to rest, De Niro got the entire audience to say the phrase in unison, for what he hoped would be the last time.

During a Q&A after the screening, members of the cast and crew including Scorsese, De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Jodie Foster, Cybil Shepherd and screenwriter Paul Schrader discussed some of the little known facts about the film’s production (including the fact that Keitel spent time with an actual pimp to research the role of “Matthew ‘Sport’ Higgins”).

Though Scorsese felt determined to make the film, he maintains that he can’t articulate what about the script attracted him to the project. “Bob and I never spoke about meaning or theory of any kind,” Scorsese said, adding that he planned to simply make the film and then “move on” with the rest of his life. “It was a film that I didn’t think anybody would really see.”

Schrader said he related to the troubled young man that inspired the character of Travis Bickle, but the screenwriter also feared he needed to get Bickle out of his system. “There was a person who I was afraid of and who I was afraid of becoming,” Schrader said. “I felt that if I wrote about him I could distance him from me, and it worked.”

It’s widely known that to prepare for the part of Bickle, De Niro drove a New York City cab for more than a week, but according to Scorsese, a passenger who recognized De Niro from his Oscar-winning performance in “The Godfather Part II” thought he was really driving a cab to make money. He said, ‘My god, you just won an Oscar. Is it that hard to get a job as an actor?'” Scorsese said.

Watch the trailer for Tribeca entry “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” below.

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