Travis Bickle is a fictional character from the 1976 film Taxi Driver, played by Robert De Niro. He is widely considered one of the most iconic characters in film history, and De Niro earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of him. He is greatly inspired by Arthur Bremer, who attempted to assassinate presidential candidate George Wallace on May 15, 1972.
Little is known about Bickle's past other than that he is a former Marine who served in the Vietnam War, has "not much" education, was given an honorable discharge in May 1973, and is 26-years-old. He is socially inept, has few friends, and is suffering from insomnia. He takes a job as a graveyard shift cab driver to occupy his time. Working late at night in dangerous neighborhoods, his customers tend to include pimp, addicts, and thieves. He is visibly disgusted by them, and begins fantasizing about "cleansing" such "filth" from the streets.
He becomes smitten with a woman, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), who works in the local campaign office of presidential candidate Senator Palantine. He often watches Betsy from his cab, and finally enters the office with the pretense of wanting to support the candidate, and asks her out. They meet for coffee, and Betsy finds him odd but intriguing, and agrees to see him again. He takes her to a porn theater he frequents. She is appalled and refuses to see him again.
After Betsy rejects him, Bickle becomes increasingly paranoid and starts acting out his vigilante fantasies. He buys several guns and takes to carrying them secreted about his person—taped to his limbs, for example, or in hidden spring-loaded holsters. He famously practices a menacing, tough guy swagger in the mirror — "You talkin' to me?" — to use on whoever angers him. Eventually, he shaves his head into a Mohawk. He attends one of Palantine's speeches, apparently intent on shooting him. He draws the attention of Secret Service agents and flees.
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