RIP Dennis Hopper

Hopper, who died this weekend from cancer at 74, was one of the most interesting, albeit erratic, actors of his generation.  From having the good sense to make his film debut in Rebel Without A Cause to practically inventing (with Peter Fonda, of course) the modern independent film with Easy Rider, he left an indelible mark.

Classic Hollywood story:  there was so much arguing between Hopper, who co-wrote and directed Easy Rider, and Rip Torn (Zed from the Men In Black films), that Torn quit and was replaced by…wait for it…Jack Nicholson in his first breakout role.

Most of Hopper’s most memorable moments were just that…moments.  Like the drugged-out journalist in Apocalypse Now, or the alcoholic dad Shooter in Hoosiers, or the classic, Tarantino-written scene in True Romance where his ex-cop dad tries to protect his son from gangster Christopher Walken.  

For me, there’s one performance that stands above all others:  the psychopath Frank Booth in David Lynch’s 1986 classic Blue Velvet.  For my money, it’s second only to Raging Bull among the best movies of the 1980s…and Hopper deserves much of the credit for that.



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