May 23, 2024

Martin Scorsese participated in a career-spanning video interview for GQ magazine (watch below) and lamented over how many people today resemble his “Taxi Driver” main character, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). The lonely and violent Travis is a Vietnam War veteran who befriends a child prostitute as his mental health deteriorates. Some film writers have described Travis as an incel-like character.

“We kept thinking in terms of the character and his loneliness and his acting out, not condoning the acting out, but he does act out and yet an empathy with him, which is really tricky,” Scorsese recalled about creating Travis. “Ultimately, what stayed with us was the psychological and emotional state of that character. As we know now, tragically, it’s a norm that every other person is like Travis Bickle.”

Scorsese also remembered the making of “Raging Bull” (1980), which centers on the rise and fall of volatile middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta (also played by Robert De Niro).

“We threw everything we knew into it, not knowing how it was going to be received,” Scorsese said. “We understood that people didn’t like him and even the crew, it turned out — I didn’t know until later — why are we making a film about this guy? He’s a horror.”

“This man may be this way but he still is a human being,” Scorsese added, defending his right to make movies about monsters. “He’s got a heart. He’s got a soul. By the end of it, he finds some kind of peace with himself and maybe the others around him. I think I was going there to try to find piece of myself.”

Travis Bickle was recently in the news due to a rumor that De Niro was reprising the iconic character for a new Uber commercial. The company later confirmed that De Niro will be seen later this year in the U.K. as a pitchman for Uber, but it stressed the campaign does not have a “Taxi Driver” theme.

“We are filming with Robert De Niro in London for a new Uber UK campaign, which will launch later in the year,” the company said in a statement. De Niro spokesman Stan Rosenfield also said the actor is not reviving Bickle for the ad, nor is he using the cabbie character’s famous line: “You talkin’ to me?’”

Watch Scorsese’s full GQ video interview below.

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