Keep It Light
Steve Schapiro : “This image was shot after the most violent scene in the film – the last sequence with all the shooting and stabbing and wrestling.
“When Scorsese shouted ‘Cut!’, everyone just collapsed about laughing – it relieved a lot of the tension.
“During filming, you could sense that this was going to be one of the greatest films of all time. The intensity of the acting really boosted the feeling that Taxi Driver was destined to be a classic.”
“There will be no more bad food…”
“De Niro’s famous for doing a lot of preparation and for Taxi Driver , he drove a cab at night for a month so he could become Travis Bickle both internally and externally.
“Pretty much everything you see Travis doing – including working out – Bobby did for real.”
Bobby, Marty, er… Paulie
“This is Paul Schrader, the writer, sharing a joke with Marty and Bobby.
“At one point, both Schrader and Scorsese thought about becoming priests or ministers. They saw Taxi Driver as a religious ritual movie set in an everyday world. Travis Bickle would work to ‘purify’ the city and then martyr himself. Schrader loved the idea of his gun not going off when he tries to kill himself.”
“De Niro’s ‘method’ is intense and extreme but he felt that he had to go as far as he could because of the nature of the character – an ex-marine soldier who is physically and mentally preparing to shoot a civilian.”
Making Up A Maniac
“Master make-up man Dick Smith – who also worked on The Godfather – manages Bobby’s mohican look.
“De Niro is actually wearing a hair-piece here, as he had more scenes afterwards where he had to show his hair again.”
“They cannot touch… her…”
“Cybill Shepherd was cast because she was gorgeous and had great hair.
“She was the dream fixation, not only for Travis Bickle, but for all America at the time.
“The tragedy of Travis is that he’s fixated on this dream-girl but probably knows that she’s unattainable.”
Talk To The Hand
“On a film set, the photographer is the low man on the totem pole because what he is doing does not add to the film production itself – and he can possibly distract the actors, maybe by being in someone’s eyeline or making camera-clicking noises.
“It’s only after the film is completed that his photographs become important for the marketing of the film – that’s when he becomes the hero.
“But it is important to be quiet and stay out of the way. That way, you can wait for those special moments – like this one – and react quickly and seamlessly.”
Iris & Iris
“Jodie Foster was only 12 when she played the part of Iris, a young street hooker. Before that, she’d starred in a few polite Disney family films. But it was amazing how she gave a performance worthy of a seasoned actress.
“Her 19-year-old sister Connie became her film double – and her chaperone.”
“This became such an iconic image for the movie. De Niro and his gun put Dirty Harry to shame.
“Bobby got so completely into his character on and off screen – it was hard to tell the difference. That’s why the image of him pointing a gun is so utterly chilling and believable.”
“I remember, here, De Niro was deep in conversation with Scorsese – who’s out of shot.
“Often, the anxiety and tension of actually making the film registered more on Scorsese’s face. Bobby was in character pretty much all the time – something this picture captures.”
“It was a big relief when Bobby did come out of character. My main memory of shooting Taxi Driver was a lot of tension – and the sense of New York City really bearing down on us.
“I also photographed The Godfather shoot – and that had much more of a family feel. There was a lot more kidding around after scenes were shot.”
“I had that Martin Scorsese in the cab the other day…”
“Marty and Bobby were very close – they’d already worked together on Mean Streets .
“I remember that a different director was scheduled to shoot Taxi Driver , but when the producers saw Mean Streets , they felt they wanted more of that gritty, street-level feel.
“Also, by hiring Marty, that made it a lot easier to bring in De Niro…”
‘Taxi Driver’ by Steve Schapiro, £650, is published by TASCHEN and is available to purchase at www.taschen.com (opens in new tab) .
This edition is limited to 1000 copies, numbered and signed by Steve Schapiro, and includes a foreword by Martin Scorsese.
The Taxi Driver 35th Anniversary Blu-ray is out now.