The 1976 classic “Taxi Driver” follows cabby Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) as he winds his way through the dirty and crime-filled streets of New York City. In his travels he meets Foster’s character, a young prostitute named Iris Steensma. The film put the pre-teen Foster in a role that would have challenged any adult, and her performance is so brilliant that it is often easy to forget how young she is. She earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for the role and became one of the few successful child actors to go on to similar accomplishments as an adult.
At the end of “Taxi Driver,” Travis murders Iris’ pimp Sport (Harvey Keitel) in front of her, leaving her sobbing while he searches for a gun with a bullet left for his own head in one of the most powerful and iconic scenes in movie history. Foster has the last line of dialogue in the scene, a plea for Travis to spare Sport’s life, and carries the climax through its last two minutes with her terrified sobs.
“Taxi Driver” often appears on lists of the greatest movies of all time and Foster’s portrayal of Iris is a primary reason why.