Over the years, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Schrader have discussed the possibility of a sequel to their 1976 classic Taxi Driver. It’s always been a controversial film, not least because of the case of John Hinckley Jr, who became obsessed with the film and specifically Jodie Foster. He then attempted an assassination of US president Ronald Reagan in 1981 (De Niro’s character, disturbed taxi driver Travis Bickle, plots to assassinate a presidential candidate).
Writing in GQ in 2019, journalist Stuart McGurk says; “Watching the film back now, what strikes you is how similar Bickle is to the young men currently carrying out acts of domestic terrorism in America – the lonely, the obsessed, the disenfranchised.” Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie was compared to both Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy for this reason. De Niro has a supporting role in Joker as a talk show host.
McGurk asked Robert De Niro about this; “If Travis Bickle was around today, surely he’d be one of the deranged Trump supporters currently carrying out one of these racist mass shootings?” And De Niro responded; “Could be. Yeah… Could be. Could be.”
Regarding a potential sequel to Taxi Driver, De Niro said; “We talk about it, me and Marty [Scorsese] and Paul Schrader [the original screenwriter], and Paul took a shot at it, but it just didn’t seem to work. It seems in theory that there’s something you could come up with that would be interesting, but it just… you know, we’ll see. There’s no point doing it unless it was special and makes a comment on the times and adds to what that movie was.”
Travis Bickle is a character who has seemingly only got more recognisable as time has gone on. Whether it would work with De Niro now, who is almost 80, is another question. An option could be that a younger person plays the main character, with De Niro in a supporting role.
While we wait to find out if Taxi Driver 2 ever comes to fruition, check out our guide to the best drama movies.