Taxi Driver: Stories From the Set’s Major Players

A Script That Was (Too) Close to Home

Paul Schrader, the screenwriter, had a series of things falling apart in his life when he was writing the movie. He was experiencing a breakdown in his marriage, a dispute with the AFI, and he lost his reviewing job. “I didn’t have any money, and I took to drifting, more or less living in my car, drinking a lot, fantasizing.”


Paul Schrader, 1978. Photo by Universal / Kobal / Shutterstock

Schrader described how the Pussycat Theater in Los Angeles would be open all night, and he would go there to sleep. He eventually found himself in the emergency room with a bleeding ulcer. He was 27 in the hospital, and he realized that he hadn’t spoken to anyone in almost a month. It was then and there that the idea of Taxi Driver was born.

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