Taxi Driver began with film critic turned scriptwriter, Paul Schrader. In 1973 the 26-year-old Schrader was living a broken life, divorced from his wife, separated from his girlfriend, and living in his car.
“At the time I wrote it I was very enamoured of guns,” Schrader later said. “I was very suicidal, I was drinking heavily, I was obsessed with pornography in the way a lonely person is, and all those elements are upfront in the script.”
Also upfront in the script are several literary influences. Schrader called Jean-Paul Satre’s existential novel Nausea the “model” for Taxi Driver, and he was also influenced by the diary extracts of would-be political assassin Arthur Bremer, whose failed attempt to murder presidential candidate George Wallace earned him headlines in May 1972.
More than anything, though, Taxi Driver was an autobiographical expression of loneliness and anger. “Travis Bickle,” Schrader admits, “was just me.”