Hopper, Dennis

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HOPPER, Dennis

Nationality: American. Born: Dodge City, Kansas, 17 May 1936. Education: Attended high school in San Diego, California. Family: Married 1) Brooke Hayward, 1961 (divorced 1969), daughter: Marin; 2) Michelle Phillips, 1970 (divorced 1970); 3) Daria Halprin, 1972 (divorced 1976), daughter: Ruthana; 4) Katherine LaNasa, 1989 (divorced 1992), son: Henry Lee; 5) Victoria Duffy, 1996. Career: Mid-1950s—appeared in repertory at Pasadena Playhouse, and studied acting with Dorothy McGuire and John Swope at Old Globe Theatre, San Diego; 1955—film debut in Rebel without a Cause; contract with Warner Brothers; sculptor and still photographer—several one-man shows of photographs; 1969—directed first film Easy Rider. Awards: Best Supporting Actor, National Society of Film Critics, and LA Film Critics, for Blue Velvet, 1986. Address: Box 1889, Taos, NM 87571, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray) (bit as posse member)


Rebel without a Cause (Nicholas Ray) (as Groon); I Died a Thousand Times (Heisler)


Giant (Stevens) (as Jordan Benedict III); Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (John Sturges) (as Billy Clanton)


No Man's Road (Martinson—for TV); A Question of Loyalty (Doniger—for TV); The Story of Mankind (Irwin Allen) (as Napoleon); Sayonara (Logan) (as voice); The Young Land (Teztlaff) (as Hatfield Carnes)


From Hell to Texas (Manhunt) (Hathaway) (as Tom Boyd); Key Witness (Karlson) (as "Cowboy")


Night Tide (Harrington) (as Johnny Drake)


Tarzan and Jane Regained . . . Sort of (Warhol)


The Sons of Katie Elder (Hathaway) (as Dave Hastings)


Queen of Blood (Planet of Blood) (Harrington) (as Paul)


Cool Hand Luke (Roseberg) (as Babalugats); The Trip (Corman) (as Max); The Glory Stompers (Lanza) (as Chino); Panic in the City (Davis) (as Goff)


Hang 'em High (Post) (as the Prophet); Head (Rafelson)


True Grit (Hathaway) (as Moon); The Festival Game (Klinger and Lytton) (as interviewee)


Crush Proof (Ménil)


Kid Blue (Frawley) (as Bickford Waner)


James Dean, the First American Teenager (Connolly—doc) (as interviewee)


Mad Dog Morgan (Mad Dog) (Mora) (as Daniel Morgan); Tracks (Jaglom) (as Jack Falen)


Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend) (Wenders) (as Tom Ripley); Les Apprentis sorciers (Cozarinsky)


Couleur chair (Weyergans); L'ordre et la sécurité du monde (d'Anna)


Apocalypse Now (Coppola) (as freelance photographer)


Wild Times (Compton—for TV)


Renacida (Reborn) (Luna); King of the Mountain (Nosseck) (as Cal)


Human Highway (Shakey) (as Cracker); The Osterman Weekend (Peckinpah) (as Richard Tremayne)


Rumblefish (Coppola) (as Father)


The Inside Man (Clegg) (as Miller)


White Star (Klick); My Science Project (Betuel) (as Bob Roberts); Stark (Holcomb—for TV); O. C. and Stiggs (Altman) (as Sponson)


Running Out of Luck (Temple) (as video director); The American Way (Riders of the Storm) (Phillips) (as Captain); Blue Velvet (Lynch) (as Frank Booth); Hoosiers (Best Shot) (Anspaugh) (as Shooter); The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part II (Hooper) (as Lt. "Lefty" Enright)


River's Edge (Hunter) (as Feck); Black Widow (Rafelson) (as Ben Dumers); Straight to Hell (Cox) (as I. G. Farben); The Pick-Up Artist (Toback) (as Flash Jensen)


Blood Red (Masterson) (as William Bradford Berrigan)


Chattahoochee (Jackson) (as Walker Benson); Flashback (Amurri)


Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol (Workman—doc); Black Leather Jacket (Mead) (as narrator); Motion and Emotion (as himself); Hollywood Mavericks (as himself)


Paris Trout (Gyllenhaal—for TV) (title role); Indian Runner (Sean Penn) (as Caesar); A Hero of Our Time; Eye of the Storm (Zeltser) (as Marvin Gladstone); Doublecrossed (Young—for TV) (as Barry Seal)


Sunset Heat (for TV); Nails (Flynn—for TV) (as Harry "Nails" Niles)


Boiling Point (Harris) (as Red Diamond); Red Rock West (Dahl) (as Lyle); Super Mario Bros. (Morton and Jankel) (as King Koopa); True Romance (Scott) (as Clifford Worley); The Heart of Justice (Baretto—for TV) (as Austin Blair)


Speed (de Bont) (as Howard Payne); Witch Hunt (Schrader—for TV) (as H. Phillip Lovecraft)


Search and Destroy (Salle) (as Dr. Luther Waxling); Waterworld (Kevin Reynolds) (as Deacon); Basquiat (Build a Fort, Set It on Fire) (Schnabel)


James Dean: A Portrait (Legon—doc) (as himself); Carried Away (Barreto) (as Joseph); Basquiat (Schnabel) (as Bruno Bischofberger); Samson and Delilah (Roeg—for TV) (as Generale Tariq)


U2: A Year in Pop (Linnane) (as Narrator); Top of the World (Cold Cash, Showdown—for TV) (Furie) (as Charles Atlas); Road Ends (King) (as Gilchrist); Happy Birthday Elizabeth: A Celebration of Life (Margolis—for TV) (as himself); The Good Life (Harrison); Space Truckers (Star Truckers) (Gordon) (as John Canyon); The Blackout (Ferrara) (as Mickey Wayne)


Wie man die Leute von ihrem Geld trennt (Vaske—for TV); Tycus (Putch) (as Peter Crawford); Black Dahlia (Laspina, Trow) (as Walter Pensky); Meet the Deedles (The Deedles) (Boyum) (as Frank Slater)


The Venice Project (Dornhelm) (as Roland/Salvatore); The Source (Workman) (as William S. Burroughs); The Prophet's Game (Worth) (as Vincent Swan); Lured Innocence (Kawasaki) (as Rick Chambers); Jesus' Son (Maclean) (as Bill); Bad City Blues (Stevens) (as Cleveland Carter); Edtv (Howard) (as Hank); Straight Shooter (Bohn) (as Frank Hector)


Luck of the Draw (Bercovici) (as Giani Ponti); Jason and the Argonauts (Willing—for TV) (as Pelias); Tycus (Putch) (as Peter Crawford); The Spreading Ground (Vanlint) (as Det. Ed Delongpre); Listen with Your Eyes (Benedikt—doc) (as himself); Knockaround Guys (Koppelman and Levien) (as Benny 'Chains' Demaret); Held for Ransom (Stanley) (as JD)


Ticker (Pyun); LAPD: To Protect and to Serve (Anders)

Films as Director:


Easy Rider (+ co-sc, ro as Billy)


The Last Movie (+ co-sc, ro)


Out of the Blue (+ ro as Don)




Backtrack (Catchfire) (d as "Allen Smithee" + ro as Milo)


The Hot Spot


Chasers (+ ro as Doggie)


By HOPPER: book—

Dennis Hopper: Out of the Sixties, Pasadena, California, 1986.

Dennis Hopper: Photographs from 1961–1967, 1993.

By HOPPER: articles—

"Dennis Hopper, Riding High," in Playboy (Chicago), December 1969.

Interview with G. O'Brien and M. Netter, in Inter/View (New York), February 1972.

Interview, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1980.

"How Far to the Last Movie?," in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), October 1982.

"Citizen Hopper," interview with C. Hodenfield, in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1986.

Interview with B. Kelley, in American Film (Los Angeles), March 1988.

Interview with David Denicolo, in Interview (New York), February 1990.

Interview with C. Bierinckx, in Film en Televisie + Video, February 1991.

"Sean Penn," interview with Julian Schnabel and Dennis Hopper, in Interview (New York), September 1991.

"Gary Oldman," in Interview (New York), January 1992.

"Question and Answer Game with Dennis Hopper," interview in Blimp, Summer 1992.

"Rebel-ution," interview with Sean Penn, in Interview (New York), October 1994.

Salter, Glenn & Shaw, David, "Red Rock West: the Press Conference," in Suspect Culture (Toronto), Fall 1994.

Interview in Vanity Fair (New York), November 1996.

On HOPPER: books—

Rodriguez, Elean, Dennis Hopper: A Madness to His Method, New York, 1988.

Stayton, Richard, Dennis Hopper, New York, 1997.

Hunter, Jack, Dennis Hopper: Movie Top Ten, Berkeley, 1999.

On HOPPER: articles—

Macklin, F. A., "Easy Rider: The Initiation of Dennis Hopper," in Film Heritage (Dayton, Ohio), Fall 1969.

Burke, Tom, "Dennis Hopper Saves the Movies," in Esquire (New York), December 1970.

Burns, Dan E., "Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie: Beginning of the End," in Literature/Film Quarterly, 1979.

Algar, N., "Hopper at Birmingham," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1982.

Herring, H. D., "Out of the Dream and into the Nightmare: Dennis Hopper's Apocalyptic Vision of America," in Journal of Popular Film (Washington, D.C.), Winter 1983.

Scharres, B., "From Out of the Blue: The Return of Dennis Hopper," in Journal of the University Film and Video Association (Carbondale, Illinois), Spring 1983.

Current Biography 1987, New York, 1987.

Martin, A., "Dennis Hopper: Out of the Blue and into the Black," in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), July 1987.

Weber, Bruce, "A Wild Man Is Mellowing, Albeit Not on Screen, in New York Times, 8 September 1994.

Stars (Mariembourg), Autumn 1995.

* * *

Perhaps no other persona better signifies the lost idealism of the 1960s than that of Dennis Hopper. From his beginnings in Rebel without a Cause, Giant, and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, to such surrealist epics as Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet, the sight of Hopper's face alone now conjures up a menacing, violent, drug-ridden character.

As with many actors with such potent personas, Hopper's has stemmed in large part from his offscreen behavior. His violent nature, as well as a long ordeal of substance abuse (both alcohol and cocaine), has led to a typecasting that generally results in Hopper playing a psychotic villain. A significant turning point came with Hopper's 1969 directorial debut Easy Rider, in which he played a cynical biker in contrast to Peter Fonda's idealistic biker. The film left an indelible impression on American popular culture, as an indictment of American conformity and a celebration of the drug counterculture permeating the nation at the time. Another standout performance came with Coppola's Apocalypse Now, in which Hopper played a mad photographer—again, apparently his on-screen performance here (boisterous, drug-starved, and generally crazy) is very similar to that of his offscreen behavior during the shoot.

Another landmark and perhaps Hopper's greatest "comeback" came with David Lynch's Blue Velvet, in which he played a sadistic kidnapper who, among other things, inhales an unspecified gas and screams "Mommy" at Isabella Rossellini during bizarre sex scenes. A star was reborn, and Hopper's performance became as much a conversation piece as the film itself. This lead to similarly offbeat performances in River's Edge, Paris Trout, and Search and Destroy.

In the action thriller Speed, Hopper seemed to perfect the psychotic villain, and sharpened his black-humor edge. The film was a massive box-office success, and thus ensured further typecasting, this time in the most expensive movie ever made, Waterworld. Hopper managed to be surprisingly fresh in his role as a postapocalyptic psychotic villain, and proved the only decent element in an otherwise mediocre film. Not to be overlooked are the less widely seen but nonetheless fine performances delivered in The American Friend and Out of the Blue, among others. Ever since Easy Rider, virtually all of Hopper's films suggest an overwhelming loss, the loss of faith, hope, and idealism so closely identified culturally with the 1960s.

—Matthew Hays