Have you ever been in a meeting with someone and you vehemently affirm why something is a terrible idea, state your case with myriad examples and while you’re talking, glowering across the table, you notice the subject in question nodding their head in agreement, but you have that horrible nagging sensation that they’re not really listening to you at all? This is how we picture conversations between Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Paul Schrader about a proposed “Taxi Driver” sequel.
The idea has come up several times over the years, mostly spurned on by De Niro in the 1990s. It was quickly quashed. In a very candid Reddit AMA earlier this year, Schrader said, in no uncertain terms, that he shut the actor’s idea down immediately. “[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,” he wrote. “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.”
Hard to argue with Schrader’s opinion. Travis Bickle was unhinged and had a death wish. One way or another, he was going to find his form of twisted salvation. Scorsese himself would never do such a thing if Schrader, the author of the idea, wasn’t on board and as recent as two years ago he dispelled that notion. “No, that came and went,” he said dismissively of that idea in a 2011 interview. Of course the rumor of a “Taxi Driver” remake did come up via Lars Von Trier and the Danish press, but that actually turned out to be a “Five Obstructions”-esque project that Scorsese quickly disassociated himself with after Von Trier’s foolish Nazi-gate fiasco at Cannes that year (and it doesn’t sound like it’s coming back any time soon).
That’s not stopping De Niro, though the actor, to his credit, does seem to realize it’s never going to happen. “Yeah, well, I had that idea,” he told the Guardian recently. “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 he’s still interested. “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.”
Thoughts? Hell, even in that aforementioned 2011 interview Scorsese sounds like he’s much more interested in reteaming with De Niro for “The Irishman” (which is supposed to co-star the power team of Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel). And at this point, the 70-year-old filmmaker still has several more passion projects he’d like to make before he calls it a day, including “Silence” and his mooted “Sinatra” biopic. Given their rate of development (slow, several years), we’d be surprised if he gets to these three, let alone a “Taxi Driver” sequel no one really wants to make outside of De Niro. Let it rest, guy.