Written by / 2/06/2022 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , ,

SCOTT THOMSON'S FAST TIMES SPEEDING THROUGH 'TAXI DRIVER'

Scott Thomson with Robert Romanus from Fast Times at Ridgemont High

In one of those bizarre and random pop culture occurrences, the actor who'd play the nerdy high school student Arnold in FAST TIMES AT RIDEMONT HIGH from 1982 was an extra in one of the greatest exploitation films ever, Martin Scorsese's gritty 1976 cult classic TAXI DRIVER...

But he was a very important extra being one of two young "Johns" picking up (or being picked up by) Jodie Foster's Iris, the extremely under-aged hooker that Robert De Niro's titular cabbie Travis Bickle winds up stalking, then saving... And here's what character-actor Scott Thomson recalls from that time-grueling night shoot... 

Scott Thomson on the far right of TAXI DRIVER with Jodie Foster & Billie  Perkins

SCOTT THOMSON: My first film job came when I was cast to do a "silent bit" in TAXI DRIVER. A "silent bit" is a step up from being an extra... it means you have on-camera screen business with the lead actors... 

My business was being paired up with another guy; with us playing two young guys out on the town, standing on a corner looking to score some hookers and then get propositioned by Iris... played by Jodie Foster... and her co worker as Travis (Robert De Niro) watches the transaction from his cab: This was shot as Travis's point of view and was a pivotal point showing fate bringing Travis and Iris together once again...

Scott Thomson on the far right of TAXI DRIVER with Jodie Foster & Billie  Perkins

It was a grueling night shoot on a hot summer night in downtown Manhattan. This was my first film and I was unprepared for the reality of the slow pace of film-making... as an actor on the set most of the time is waiting and waiting...

Around 1 a.m., I was starting to fade. My roommate, who was Robert De Niro's stand-in, took pity on my weariness and handed me a black pill and said: "Take this… It'll set you up." So I took the pill and the pill took me.... 

Scott Thomson on the far right of TAXI DRIVER with Jodie Foster & Billie  Perkins

A couple hours later I was sweating profusely and tried to find gum to keep me from chewing my lower lip off.  The first A.D. gathered Jodie and the rest of us and explained the shot... I was disappointed that Scorcese didn't give us direction... More waiting and sweating and chatting with Jodie: I couldn't believe her transformation from “Becky Thatcher” in TOM SAWYER to a lurid teen hooker... 

She was very cute, charming and professional and I found myself falling for her as I was speeding my nuts off... and finally, we were ready to shoot and Scorcese went over the moves of the shots in that rapid staccato speech pattern of his, while I nodded my head in 3/4 time, and, after we got the shot, I went home and crashed.

Scott Thomson as Arnold in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
Robert De Niro in TAXI DRIVER
Jodie Foster and Billie Perkins in TAXI DRIVER
Scott Thomson in Fast Times director Amy Heckerling's Johnny Dangerously with Michael Keaton

Scott Thomson says "Hello" to G.W. Baily in POLICE ACADEMY
Scott Thomson bids "Goodbye Goodbye Goodbye" before the FAST TIMES end credits roll
Scott Thomson in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
Scott "Bronco Burger" Thomson in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
Nicolas Cage with Judge Reinhold & Scott Thomson in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Scott Thompson with Blair Tefkin and Brian Backer in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Scott Thomson with the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman in TWISTER
Scott "Hope you had a helluva piss Arnold" Thompson avoids trouble in Fast Times

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