Writer-director Paul Schrader maintains a wonderfully frank social media presence, so much so that studios often ask him to cool it when new projects are in theaters. Since it will be a while until his next one, Master Gardener starring Sigourney Weaver and Joel Edgerton, is out, the director of First Reformed and The Card Counter is currently in one of his speak-your-mind periods on Facebook.
Saturday’s update concerned the upcoming Showtime adaptation of American Gigolo, based on Schrader’s 1980 sensation starring Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton, and whether he’s watched the trailer. “The answser [sic] is No,” he wrote, and then he told a story.
“Some years ago I received a call from Paramount asking about remaking American Gigolo as a series. I replied that I thought it was a terrible idea—times had changed, internet porn had redefined male sex work, etc. I couldn’t imagine [main character] Julian Kay working a Hen Party. ([Martin] Scorsese and I had fought off similar attempts to redo Taxi Driver for years.)
“I thought that was the end of it. Then came another call saying Jerry Bruckheimer and Paramount had the rights to redo AG without my consent. I said I would think about how such a show could be structured. No, the caller explained, they did not want my involvement. Here were my options: (1) take $50G and not be involved (2) take $0 and not be involved (3) threaten an expensive and futile lawsuit and not be involved. I took the $50G. I haven’t seen the trailer.”
Schrader’s note concludes by saying he’s a fan of actor Jon Bernthal and he called Gretchen Mol the best. (He then apologized for not doing “a better job with the film I wrote and directed for her—sorry for that, Gretch,” a reference to the 1999 drama Forever Mine co-starring Joseph Fiennes and Ray Liotta.) He signed off saying he won’t watch the new show, as it would cause “too much agita.”
Word of a Taxi Driver redo is certainly notable, especially since Robert De Niro has been hoping to get a sequel going, at least as recently as December 2018. In an interview with Collider, De Niro said “for years I was thinking where Travis Bickle would be today and we spoke to Marty [Scorsese] about it and Paul Schrader came up with something. But it never worked out. I think there may be something interesting in what happened to him, but we couldn’t find the right thing.”
In 2013, Schrader said that De Niro brought up the idea of a sequel to the 1976 Palme d’Or-winner to him and Scorsese 15 years prior, and “I told him it was the dumbest idea that I’ve ever heard.” He continued, “I told him that character had died not more than 6 months after that movie was over. He was on a death trip and was gonna succeed the next time.”