RIP Dennis Hopper | The Popjustice Forum

RIP Dennis Hopper

Discussion in 'TV + Film' started by sifr, May 29, 2010.

  1. Dennis Hopper has passed away at the age of 74.

    I'm actually, strangely, really upset about this. He was part of the counter-culture kickstart of Hollywood in the late 60s with Easy Rider (which has always bored me senseless) but before that had been a regular supporting player at several Hollywood studios, appearing in Hang 'Em High with Clint Eastwood, Cool Hand Luke and perhaps most notably Rebel Without A Cause, where he formed a strong bond with James Dean. He also appeared as Napoleon in Irwin Allen's quite insane The Story of Mankind.

    After Easy Rider, things went a little blurry with The Last Movie, his more than a little egomanical follow-up, and his increasing reliance on drink and drugs. All kinds of drugs. Every kind of drugs. Aside from a zonked appearance in Apocalypse Now, he filled the rest of the 70s and early 80s with either underground arthouse like Tracks, or exploitation fare like the Australian Mad Dog Morgan (during the filming of which he was pronounced legally dead based on the alcohol levels in his body. At the time of his death, he was still banned from not only driving a vehicle in the city of Victoria, but also being a passenger in a vehicle, which is some achievement.)

    The 80s continued to be a difficult time - unable to limit his drug dependency, some directors worked around it, asking him to use uppers for passionate scenes, and downers for gentler fare. His call sheet would literally come with a prescription list. This continued through a few notable movies like Sam Peckinpah's final film The Osterman Weekend and Rumble Fish, before his insane (in a frighteningly good way) turn as Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet reminded people just how terrific he could be. Slowly getting back on track, he progressed through more variable roles in films like Black Widow and the satirical Flashback, until he finally reached the new youth conciousness as a demented Koopa in the demented Super Mario Bros.

    After this, things got way better, as 1993 saw two excellent roles for Hopper, firstly as weary hitman Lyle in Red Rock West, and, perhaps his finest role ever, as Christian Slater's loving father Clifford in True Romance. His mano-a-mano with Christopher Walken in that film shows a man at the end of his life, determined to go out his own way, protecting his family and pissing off as many people as he can in the meantime. It's a seminal moment for the actor.

    Following this, and though he still made many low-budget, straight to video films, his twin villains in Speed and Waterworld kept him firmly in the public mind, and no matter how bad or average a film might be, a Hopper appearance was something to look forward to.

    A further villain on the first series of 24 followed, as well as TV series like the adaptation of Crash. Among his final films were George Romero's Land of the Dead and Kevin Costner's Swing Vote. He completed two films before his death, one a voice in an animated film coming from Lionsgate, the other an independent called, almost appropriately, The Last Film Festival.

    I think my first exposure to Dennis Hopper was probably Speed, but that was a film and a performance that I loved greatly, and from then on, I've always liked his work. Over-the-top sometimes? Sure, but never less than richly entertaining with it. He was a one-off, a difficult, irascible man, an addict, an abuser, but also a survivor. Quite frankly, it's amazing he didn't die before I hit puberty. But I'm very glad he didn't. He was never less than candid (a staunch lifetime Republican, he then switched to Democrat and championed Obama during the last election, recognising he didn't like his what his lifetime supportees were anymore) and he left behind some terrific work.

    I really, really am going to miss him. Farewell Dennis, you wonderful, mad bastard, farewell.
  2. Giant and Rebel Without A Cause. Especially the former. Oh, and River's Edge. And Waterworld.
  3. Awwww...

    Someone asked me if he'd died just last week!! I had no idea he was that old!

  4. Sad indeed. He's had a very odd and eventful life. I'll always remember him for the film Space Truckers, which is utterly terrible, but he only signed to do it so he could play golf in Ireland and get paid for it.

    Here is Dennis with Gorilliaz live in Harlem performing Fire Coming Out Of A Monkey's Head from Demon Days.
  5. R.I.P. I always liked him, loved his performances in Blue Velvet and Speed.
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