Martin Scorsese reveals Robert De Niro improvised iconic scene from Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver
Credit: Netflix

‘You Talkin’ to Me?’

Director Martin Scorsese opens up about a memorable scene from the sets of Taxi Driver where actor Robert De Niro reportedly improvised a line in the scene. It features the actor who plays New York City night shift taxi driver Travis Bickle, where he imagines and acts out a supposed future confrontation where he asks someone to comply with his orders.

As he glares at himself in the mirror, he says, “You talkin’ to me?” he repeats adding, “You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here.” At The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday, Scorsese said, “He was improvising it,” adding, “We were behind schedule. We were in such trouble.”

Credit: YouTube

During the scene, Scorcese’s producers were mad about the delay and were constantly badgering him to cut and move on to the next sequence. However, the 81-year-old director was adamant and encouraged De Niro to continue his ad-libbing. He recalled to Colbert, “They were banging on the door and I had to go to the door, open the door and say, ‘This is good. This is good. Give me five — two more minutes. One more take, one more take.'” He added, “I was at [De Niro’s] feet, because there were no video assistants at the time. And I was saying, ‘Do it again, do it again!’ And he was doing the thing with the moves and the gun.”

The end result? Taxi Driver was a commercial and critical masterpiece of 1967 and went on to badge Academy Award nominations in four categories; Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Actor (De Niro), and Best Supporting Actress (Jodie Foster).

Scorsese De Niro Awards
Credit: Instagram

Colbert proceeded to question the director, “So if you had stayed on schedule, there would be no, ‘You talkin’ to me?'” to which Scorsese replied, “That’s right,” adding, “That wasn’t in the script, it came from him.” The iconic scene was shot in a building near Columbus Avenue and 88th Street that is now gone.

Scorsese De Niro
Credit: Instagram

The 2024 Academy Award nominations were announced on Tuesday, where Killers Of The Flower Moon was nominated in 10 whole categories. This makes Scorsese the most-nominated living director in Oscar history. (The late William Wyler holds the record with 12 nods, per the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Scorsese and De Niro,80, have featured in 10 films together.

According to data collected by People Magazine, Scorsese’s upcoming project includes The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder, which will reunite him with Leonardo DiCaprio.