You pitchin’ to me? De Niro once wanted a sequel to Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese once urged Paul Schrader to hear Robert De Niro out on his pitch for a sequel to Taxi Driver.

One of the most gripping elements of 1976’s Taxi Driver — which we still debate nearly 50 years later — is the ending. The ambiguity for many has left a number of questions: Did Travis survive the shootout? Was the final scene with him and Betsy just a fantasy? According to Robert De Niro, not only did Travis survive (and perhaps his encounter with Betsy real), but the character still had a number of moments worth exploring in a sequel to Taxi Driver.

According to Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader (via IndieWire), he never once wanted to expand on that world, saying it was all the doing of De Niro. “Now, I don’t want to slag De Niro, but a lot of his decisions sometimes have financial motivations. I’m sure someone had said to him, ‘You know, if you do ‘Taxi Driver 2,’ they can pay.’” Apparently, director Martin Scorsese — of course a close friend and collaborator of De Niro — urged Schrader to sit down with the actor over the potential for a Taxi Driver sequel. “So we had dinner at Bob’s restaurant and Bob was talking about it. I said, ‘Wow, that’s the worst f*cking idea I’ve ever heard. That character dies at the end of that movie or dies shortly thereafter. He’s gone.’”

Schrader took the opportunity to pitch his own Taxi Driver sequel idea to De Niro and Scorsese, which also highlighted just how ridiculous the whole idea is. “Oh, but maybe there is a version of him that I could do. Maybe he became Ted Kaczynski and maybe he’s in a cabin somewhere and just sitting there, making letter bombs. Now, that would be cool. That would be a nice Travis. He doesn’t have a cab anymore. He just sits there [laughs] making letter bombs.”

Fortunately, a sequel to Taxi Driver never left the depot, and so what remains is a singular work that stands as one of the greatest films ever and the quintessential portrayal of isolation and the muddled interpretations of heroism.

What are your own interpretations of the ending to Taxi Driver? Could a sequel have ever made sense? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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