Back when Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese were getting ready to shoot Taxi Driver, De Niro was one of those young actors eager to do all he could to get in touch with the role and live as the character of Travis Bickle. Part of that preparation process included video-taping American soldiers with Midwestern accents because he felt that's how Travis would sound, but he also obtained a NYC taxi driver's license in order to see what it was like to be an actual taxi driver. De Niro reportedly drove around as a taxi driver for a couple of weeks prior to the start of production, working 12-hour days.
Here's an image of De Niro's real-life taxi driver's license from back in 1976. Additionally, scroll below the image for five more bits of Taxi Driver trivia courtesy of IMDb. [via Buzzfeed]
1. Various studios considered producing this film; one suggested Neil Diamond for the lead role. Jeff Bridges and Dustin Hoffman were also considered for the part of Travis Bickle.
2. The scene where Travis Bickle is talking to himself in the mirror was completely ad-libbed by Robert De Niro. The screenplay details just said, "Travis looks in the mirror." Martin Scorsese claims that he got the inspiration for the scene from Marlon Brando mouthing words in front of a mirror in Reflections in a Golden Eye.
3. Harvey Keitel rehearsed with actual pimps to prepare for his role. The scene where his character and Iris dance is improvised, and is one of only two scenes in the film that don't focus on Bickle.
4. The restaurant where the cabbies gather to eat was a real-life hangout for taxi drivers called the Belmore Cafeteria at 28th St. and Park Avenue South. It has since been demolished, but the apartment building that replaced it is named the Belmore.
5. The girl with whom Martin Scorsese studied in order to prepare for the role of Iris (played by Jodie Foster, the actress who won the role) also appears in the film, as Iris' friend on the street.