“My marriage fell through, and the affair that caused the marriage to fall through fell through, all within the same four or five months. I fell into a state of manic depression…
“I got to wandering around at night; I couldn’t sleep because I was so depressed. I’d stay in bed till four or five pm, then I’d say, ‘Well, I can get a drink now.’ I’d get up and get a drink and take the bottle with me and start wandering around the streets in my car at night. After the bars closed, I’d go to pornography. I’d do this all night, till morning, and I did it for about three or four weeks, a very destructive syndrome, until I was saved from it by an ulcer: I had not been eating, just drinking.
“When I got out of the hospital I realized I had to change my life because I would die and everything; I decided to leave L.A. That was when the metaphor hit me for TAXI DRIVER, and I realized that was the metaphor I had been looking for: the man who will take anybody any place for money; the man who moves through the city like a rat through the sewer; the man who is constantly surrounded by people, yet has no friends. The absolute symbol of urban loneliness. That’s the thing I’d been living; that was my symbol, my metaphor. The film is about a car as the symbol of urban loneliness, a metal coffin.” — Paul Schrader, on writing the screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s film. Interview with Richard Thompson*
Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976). Image credit: Columbia Pictures.