“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Oh… Well, what if I told you my really cool idea for a Taxi Driver sequel? Would you talk to me then?”
While that’s not a direct quote from the recent interview that Robert De Niro did with The Guardian, it’s a pretty accurate paraphrasing. It appears that De Niro is furtively glancing at his cinematic past through a rearview mirror, perhaps struck with a paranoia that his best days are behind him.
This isn’t the first time he has raised the idea, but it is an idea that no one else involved with the original movie seems particularly interested in. Screenwriter Paul Schrader called De Niro’s proposed sequel “the dumbest idea that I’ve ever heard.” Obviously that was before he was pitched the idea of directing The Canyons, which became the new dumbest idea he’d ever heard, but unfortunately he did not realize that fact in time to not direct The Canyons.
Director Martin Scorcese was not any more receptive to the idea, saying in an interview, “That came and went.” No one has yet asked Jodi Foster if she would want to reprise her role as a 12 year-old prostitute, but chances are good that she’d say “Thanks but no thanks.”
So that leaves poor Bobby De Niro all by himself holding the banner of Taxi Driver 2. What would the plot have been like if it had been made? No details have been provided, but it’s easy to imagine the sequel taking place in modern times, decades after the events of the first film. Travis Bickle is now a national hero, having saved the President from being assassinated and then going on to run for President himself. He gets elected, of course, and ends up a two-term President. But he hasn’t forgotten his roots, so the whole time he’s running the country he’s also still driving a taxi on nights and weekends. And it’s while driving that taxi that he overhears a plot. A plot to kill the President. A plot to kill him.
You can probably guess where it goes from there, with Bickle fighting terrorists and assassins and saving prostitutes in distress. But unfortunately that blockbuster hit will only ever play in the theater of your mind. The Taxi Driver sequel remains but a humble actor’s fondest dream, mumbled to any passerby with a press badge and a few minutes to kill.