I was sitting at home this afternoon (Saturday) surfing around Facebook when I saw a status update from my good pal Scotty G reporting the death of Dennis Hopper. My first reaction was “no!” For those of us following, it’s been no secret that Hopper had been battling cancer for months. Though he was able to receive his much deserved star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, he was clearly suffering from his illness. But I was still sad to see the news. This one even trumps the death of Gary Coleman in my book. I’m not trying to make light of Coleman’s death at all – he certainly brings back fond memories of my youth. But Dennis Hopper is and will always be a legend.
My favourite Dennis Hopper performance has got to be his role as The Reporter in Apocalypse Now!, one of my top ten films of all time. I don’t know what the man was on at the time (he must have been on something, right?) but his performance is the most dynamic in a film where both leads Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando are more measured. Sure, Robert Duvall gets the most memorable line of the movie, but it’s Hopper’s manic ramblings that crack me up every time I watch the film.
I didn’t really “get” David Lynch’s Blue Velvet until watching it for the third time last year. Maybe as a teenager the subtleties and crazed humour throughout the film was over my heard, but on last viewing it was as though it all became clear. There uncomfortable parts are still there, but Dennis Hopper’s performance as the absolutely batshit crazy Frank Booth is the perfect melding of over the top craziness with just the hint of tragedy as the below scene demonstrates (but just a hint, seeing as the guy is a total psycho).
I could go on. His villain in Speed. Or the amazing tutorial he puts on with Christopher Walken in True Romance. Classics.
Here’s to you, Dennis Hopper. RIP.