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Martin Scorsese Says Robert De Niro Improvised ‘Taxi Driver’s “You Talkin’ to Me?”

Robert De Niro improvised his famous “You talkin’ to me?” line from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, the director shared this week.

In the film, De Niro’s character, Travis Bickle, imagines a confrontation in a mirror when he asks, “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”

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Scorsese recalled his experience filming the now-famous moment during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday. “That wasn’t in the script, it came from him,” he said.

The Killers of a Flower Moon director elaborated saying that filming was “behind schedule,” at the time and that “we were in such trouble.”

Scorsese added that his producers were “mad” and “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.'”

Of the actual filming,” Scorsese said he “was at [De Niro’s] feet because there were no video assistant 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.”

Taxi Driver, released in 1976, garnered four Oscar nominations that season, including best picture, best actor (De Niro), best supporting actress (Jodie Foster) and best score. In 2005, the American Film Institute ranked “You talkin’ to me?” at number ten on their “100 Years…100 Years of Movie Quotes” list.

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