“Scorsese sat there with a loaded gun”: Quentin Tarantino Shared Wild Story Behind the Making of Robert De Niro’s ‘Taxi Driver’

Quentin Tarantino shares a bizarre behind-the-scenes tale from the sets of of Martin Scorsese's magnum opus Taxi Driver

Quentin Tarantino Shared Wild Story Behind the Making of Robert De Niro’s ‘Taxi Driver’


  • Quentin Tarantino shared a story about Martin Scorsese's outburst while making Taxi Driver.
  • Scorsese was angry at Columbia Pictures for forcing him to recut the movie.
  • With the help of a friend, he managed to keep most parts of the original cut.
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The making of Martin Scorsese’s 1976 neo-noir film Taxi Driver starring Robert De Niro has been surrounded by a lot of controversies. Despite its fame and success, several bizarre stories were attached to it, and one in particular was revealed by renowned director, Quentin Tarantino.

Robert De Niro Taxi Driver
Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver is considered Scorsese’s magnum opus, where the viewers see De Niro as Travis Bickle, an insomniac cab driver who roams the streets of New York City. While Scorsese remains unsatisfied with the film’s post-production, there was a more interesting story to it.

RELATED: Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro Took a $159M Gamble With Ensemble Netflix Film After Streamer Surpassed Independent Studios With One Promise


Urban Legend Says Martin Scorsese Wanted To Kill Studio Executive For Meddling With His Creative Vision

Quentin Tarantino popularized a legend about Martin Scorsese when he was tasked to make an introduction for Taxi Driver. The context was that Columbia Pictures wanted the director to recut the film to make it rated R instead of X. Tarantino told the story (via Bedford + Bowery):

The legend goes that Scorsese stayed up all night drinking, getting drunk with a loaded gun. And his purpose was, in the morning he was going to shoot the executive at Columbia for making him cut his masterpiece.”

Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese

Apparently, the studio was looking at it from the financial perspective. The more viewers that can watch it, the more profit it brings them. The director continued:

And it turned out to be a vigil all night as Scorsese sat there with a loaded gun in his lap, and some of his fellow filmmakers and friends came and talked to him and commiserated with him and tried to talk him out of it. And apparently this lasted all night long.”

Scorsese was definitely serious about his plan after all the changes he had to make to his film. In the end, he decided to desaturate the color of the blood to make it less disgusting. Tarantino concluded:


I’ve heard stories that literally all of them grew up that night because they realized how serious Scorsese was at the prospect of what he was going to do.”

Even Steven Spielberg provided an account that supported this story, and Scorsese was really furious about the studio meddling with his artistic vision.

RELATED: Martin Scorsese Learned His Lesson After His Controversially Condemned 1988 Film Starring Willem Dafoe, Later Tested It on Liam Neeson’s Movie

Martin Scorsese Got To Preserve Most Parts From Taxi Driver’s Original Cut

Robert De Niro Taxi Driver-2
Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver

Director Brian de Palma also corroborated Tarantino’s statement, though he could not attest to accuracy because of his poor memory. He said in a Q&A segment (via Bedford + Bowery):


I remember very distinctly being in the screening room and seeing these jerk-offs saying, ‘Ah, you gotta take that out, ya gotta take…’ And Marty is just dying because they were chopping up his movie. I remember seeing this thing and saying this has got to stop.”

De Palma helped Scorsese find a way to somehow salvage his project from the hands of Columbia Pictures. He continued:

So, I remember talking to [New Yorker critic] Pauline Kael and arranging a screening for her to see it, I think in Chicago, and I said to Marty, ‘Send the picture and let [Kael] look at it. Once they know she’s seen it and she starts talking about it, this is going to be over.’ And that’s, as I recall, that’s what happened.”

Fortunately, Pauline Kael’s positive review of the early screening permitted the Taxi Driver director to keep most of his original ideas for the movie.

RELATED: “I didn’t even know who he was”: Dustin Hoffman Thought Martin Scorsese Was Crazy Before He Made History With Robert De Niro in ‘Taxi Driver’



Written by Ariane Cruz

Articles Published: 2045

Ariane Cruz, Senior Content Writer. She has been contributing articles for FandomWire since 2021, mostly covering stories about geek pop culture. With a degree in Communication Arts, she has an in-depth knowledge of print and broadcast journalism. Her other works can also be seen on Screen Rant and CBR.