"Taxi Driver was very much Paul Schrader’s script. He wrote it over a period, I don’t know, I keep thinking maybe four, five weeks, three weeks maybe. He was in a very lonely state at the time, a very bad state of frame of mind as you can tell from the film. The loneliness, frustration, anxiety, fear. It’s all there. And, somehow, I connected with the material. Travis was an outsider. I thought of myself as an outsider. Maybe because I was a kid with asthma or whatever, I don’t know. I’ve always felt like that. The anger and the rage are always there. Maybe it’s because of the way I grew up. I don’t know but it’s there. It was there with Schrader. It was there in Travis. And, in a way, I felt it was like an umbilical cord to me. I felt as if I just knew it intrinsically. And De Niro felt a similar way, although we never articulated it with Bob. He doesn’t have to talk about it. He does it, you see. And so it was a really perfect union of the three of us. I don’t like a lot of violence in films, but it’s the way I grew up. I saw that sort of thing all the time. I knew that there was a double edge to violence, especially when you’re younger. There’s an excitement to it. But it’s really ugly and it’s bad and it’s wrong. I just saw it that way. Growing up I saw how undignified it was, but part of it was just a bunch of kids in the street being tough sometimes. That’s everywhere. That’s not just the Lower East Side. I saw things when I was eight or nine years old, you know, and it leaves an impression on you. And so I usually approach violence in as honest a way as possible and there’s no doubt about it. I’m not saying that a ten-year-old kid should see these films, you know. They shouldn’t. There should be some regulation. But I always stayed as true as I could to what I knew… I didn’t think the film would ever get anywhere. We were doing it as a labor of love.” — Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver (1976)
"I once had a dream, or a vision, and I imagined that dream to be of importance to other people, so I wrote the manuscript and made the film. But it is not until the moment when my dream meets with your emotions and your minds that my shadows come to life. It is your recognition that brings them to life. It is your indifference that kills them. I hope that you will understand; that you when you leave the cinema will take with you an experience or a sudden thought—or maybe a question. The efforts of my friends and myself have then not been in vain…" — Ingmar Bergman
Director Martin Scorsese claims that the most important shot in the movie is when Bickle is on the phone trying to get another date with Betsy. The camera moves to the side slowly and pans down the long, empty hallway next to Bickle, as if to suggest that the phone conversation is too painful and pathetic to bear. [x]
By the time I got the role in Taxi Driver, I’d already made more stuff than De Niro or Martin Scorsese. I’d been working from the time I was three years old. So even though I was only twelve, I felt like I was the veteran there.
De Niro took me aside before we started filming. He kept picking me up from my hotel and taking me to different diners. The first time he basically didn’t say anything. He would just, like, mumble. The second time he started to run lines with me, which was pretty boring because I already knew the lines. The third time, he ran lines with me again and now I was really bored. The fourth time, he ran lines with me, but then he started going off on these completely different ideas within the scene, talking about crazy things and asking me to follow in terms of improvisation.
So we’d start with the original script and then he’d go off on some tangent and I’d have to follow, and then it was my job to eventually find the space to bring him back to the last three lines of the text we’d already learned.
It was a huge revelation for me, because until that moment I thought being an actor was just acting naturally and saying the lines someone else wrote. Nobody had ever asked me to build a character. The only thing they’d ever done to direct me was to say something like “Say it faster” or “Say it slower.” So it was a whole new feeling for me, because I realized acting was not a dumb job. You know, I thought it was a dumb job. Somebody else writes something and then you repeat it. Like, how dumb is that?
There was this moment, in some diner somewhere, when I realized for the first time that it was me who hadn’t brought enough to the table. And I felt this excitement where you’re all sweaty and you can’t eat and you can’t sleep.
Changed my life. - Jodie Foster on how Robert de Niro taught her how to act.