Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Taxi Driver’: This Legendary Cameo Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

‘Taxi Driver’: This Legendary Cameo Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

Watching Taxi Driver all these years later since it debuted on movie screens might leave some people scratching their heads. Why? It’s about a very important scene between Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle and the “Passenger Watching Silhouette.”

Bickle is a man possessed who has a lot of anger and hate within him. Because of his idiosyncracies and nuttiness, Travis is an incredible insomniac. So, he turns to taxi driving to help him out. The angry Vietnam War veteran visits a nearby porn theater from his home.

When out driving around, a man gets into his car — the “Passenger Without Silhouette” — and starts talking in a rapid-fire way. Well, Travis takes this man to his home but he’s not ready to get out. He orders Travis to keep the meter running and park near a rolling fare meter. The person acting as The Passenger? None other than Taxi Driver director Martin Scorsese.

The Passenger Makes Himself Known In ‘Taxi Driver’

After Travis parks, The Passenger wants to keep his attention on what’s happening in the room. The Passenger then starts ranting and raving, much like a man with enraged thoughts. He asks Travis, “Can you see the woman in the window?”

The Passenger points in a direction toward a room, one which isn’t the woman’s home and where her lover, a Black man, is now. This is no way to treat a lady. But The Passenger was too focused on getting revenge. The Passenger reveals his plan to get revenge on his wife and the Black man. He’s going to either murder them, leave their faces and bodies disfigured, or worse.

One trait of The Passenger that Travis might pick up on is this man’s vile, wicked laughter, according to Collider. He is hellbent on getting his revenge. There also is this sense of lack of completion when watching this scene. We never see The Passenger again, so we don’t know if he went ahead with his vile attack or not.

For his part, Scorsese put on quite a show. In another important scene, The Passenger talks about getting a gun and taking care of business. This mere hint lands softly in Travis’ brain, where he goes out and gets a gun later on.

Scorsese had an earlier cameo in Taxi Driver. He’s a man who leers at Betsy, played by Cybill Shepherd, while she steps into the campaign office.

In reviewing his on-screen time, Scorsese said his becoming The Passenger put him in line to be a scene partner for De Niro. There was another actor who was on board to play The Passenger. But he had a severe head injury on another movie’s set. So, this meant that Scorsese had to step in at the last minute and take over.