Film legend Dennis Hopper passed away today at the age of 74. The man was a true artist, a truly creative mind and a rebel. Always a good sport, an excellent story teller and a hypnotic actor, Dennis Hopper began his career as a character actor with small supporting roles in films like Rebel Without a Cause and Cool Hand Luke but would gain world wide recognition after directing and co-starring alongside Peter Fonda in the award winning Easy Rider. The film launched his career along with those of his co-stars and he found himself starring in such films as Mad Dog Morgan and Apocalypse Now.
Hopper entered a drug rehabilitation center in 1983 after a daredevil stunt (involving himself, a coffin and several sticks of TNT) was interpreted as a suicide attempt. By this time in Dennis Hoppers life, according to his account in the documentary film “Easy Rider, Raging Bulls” his cocaine intake had reached 3 grams a day, complimented by about 30 beers, weed, and Cuba Libres.
It wasn’t until 1986 that Dennis Hopper landed his remarkable, career defining role in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, the part that pumped new blood into Hopper’s career. The character’s name was Frank Booth, a foul mouthed, abusive, gas huffing, murdering, rapist who represented the darkest, sickest, underbelly of the American dream.
That same year Dennis portrayed Feck the drug dealer in Rivers Edge and would go on to get an Oscar nomination for his role as Shooter in the film Hoosiers. He also directed the critically acclaimed police drama about South Central Los Angeles police officers, Colors.
Dennis was also an acclaimed photographer, sculptor and painter. His most well known photography is his portraiture from the 1960’s. His painting style ranged from the abstract to photorealism.
The man also made some contributions to the art form that is Trash Cinema by bringing to life Super Mario’s arch nemesis King Koopa in the video game to movie adaptation Super Mario Brothers as well as the Messenger of God, Lefty, who brought down Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2.
Dennis Hopper may have passed away but the mark this remarkable man left on film and our culture is undeniable. He will most certainly be missed. but that spirit of his, the spirit to create, to dare, and to never be afraid lives on.
Goodbye Dennis. And thank you.