It’s difficult to imagine an actor doing anything other than acting, especially when they’ve been involved in as many of the best movies ever made as Robert De Niro has been. But for one of the best Robert De Niro movies, he tried his hand at his character’s profession.
One of the highlights of De Niro’s collaborations with director Martin Scorsese was the ’70s thriller movie Taxi Driver. De Niro gave one of his most intense performances as the alienated war veteran Travis Bickle, who becomes obsessed with “cleaning up” the streets of Manhattan.
In order to get into the twisted headspace of Bickle before filming the drama movie, De Niro got himself a licence and became a taxi driver in New York City.
The actor was busy in Italy filming Bernardo Bertolucci’s war epic 1900, but would fly home at the weekends in order to quietly drive around the streets of Manhattan as Bickle does in the story.
De Niro also lost a great deal of weight before taking on the Taxi Driver role and listened to recordings of Arthur Bremer – a criminal serving a sentence at that time for attempting to assassinate a presidential candidate. A similar attack is perpetrated by Bickle in the movie.
Taxi Driver went on to earn critical acclaim and four Oscar nominations, including a nod for De Niro in the Best Actor category. He would ultimately lose out to Peter Finch, who was awarded posthumously for his performance in the satire Network.