For film fans, Paul Schrader is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only is he an incredible writer, an accomplished director, and all-around creative genius, but he’s also one of the few people in Hollywood that has a zero-fucks-given mentality. If there were a “Zero Fucks Given” Mount Rushmore of directors, you’d have monuments dedicated to modern masters of interviews like Lars von Trier, Nicolas Winding Refn, John Carpenter, and of course, Schrader. And recently, he’s proven his status among those elite storytellers with a hilarious anecdote about “Taxi Driver 2” and his triumphant escape from Facebook jail.
As part of a recent episode of “The Q & A Podcast,” the filmmaker was asked a variety of questions about his career and his most recent feature, “First Reformed.” But the part that stood out most to us is a story he shared when asked about the possibility of a “Taxi Driver” sequel.
“No, no, no. That was a stupid idea that [Robert] De Niro had,” Schrader quickly refuted.
“Marty [Scorsese] said, ‘Bobby [De Niro] wants to do a sequel to ‘Taxi Driver.’’ I said, ‘That’s the stupidest fucking idea I’ve ever heard,’” the filmmaker eloquently stated.
Alas, Schrader goes on to explain that Scorsese wasn’t trying to discuss it with his writer. Instead, the director wanted Schrader to be the one to break it to De Niro.
“And with Marty, you quickly realize that he gets you to play the bad guy. He’s not going to tell Bob this is the stupidest idea he’s ever heard,” Schrader said. “So, we have lunch together and I said, ‘Bob, this is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.’…But then I thought, ‘Well, wait a second, Bob. Maybe [Travis Bickle] is still alive.’ You know, he was on a death trip. I don’t think he lived more than six months after that movie, but maybe he is still alive.”
He continued, “Maybe he’s [infamous “Unabomber”] Ted Kaczynski. Maybe the whole movie takes place in a cabin in Montana, where he’s writing in his journal, sending out bombs. Now, that would be cool. But De Niro doesn’t like that idea.”
Speaking of stupid ideas, and Schrader’s knack for saying things that most Hollywood types would never dare, the filmmaker was released from his self-imposed Facebook jail post-Oscars. And in typical fashion, the man didn’t take long before letting out some things he has been holding back.
First, you may be wondering, “Why was the Oscar-nominated writer of ‘First Reformed’ in self-imposed exile during awards season?” Well, Schrader has your answer.
“Last fall, after I admitted that I’d like to work with Kevin Spacey, A24 requested that I stay off from [Facebook] until award season was over. It’s over and I’m out of FB jail,” he wrote in a recent Facebook post.
But then Schrader launches into some of his thoughts on issues that happened while he was away, which included one statement that shows just how amazing he is, and why film fans around the world should be envious of his position. “…ran into Spike Lee, Alfonso Cuaron, Pavel Paveloski (sic), Bo Burnham and Barry Jenkins so often at so many ceremonies and events I never need to see them again,” he continued.
However, the last point is something that is sure to stoke the flames of Oscar debate that has risen up since “Green Book” took home the Best Picture award. In a veiled statement, that isn’t so subtle when you look at Schrader’s reported dislike of the Peter Farrelly film, he wrote, “…learned anew never to underestimate the power of mediocrity.”
Welcome back to the social media world, Paul Schrader. We sure did miss you.