Remember last year when Natasha Richardson’s death set off a whole string of celebrity deaths (Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, etc.), well it looks like Gary Coleman will be famous for starting the 2010 trend. News reports yesterday started to come in that director, writer, and actor Dennis Hopper had died as a result of prostate cancer. Hopper was one of the leaders of a new wing of American film star who deftly combined the mundane with the bizarre to create film art that engaged with its audience.
Hopper was adept at creeping me the fuck out in many of his roles. The most indelible in my mind is his helium huffing villain Frank Booth in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” I can barely find words to describe it so I think a clip will have to suffice.
Hopper did not always play characters as eccentric as Frank Booth, but when he did play more “average” citizens he most certainly gave his all. I’ve tried to find a clip of Hopper as the alcoholic father to a high school basketball player in the dick flick “Hoosiers” but I have failed. This was not your normal sports movie and part of the reason it excelled is the balls-to-the-wall performance by Hopper.
There are many more things that can be said about Hopper, but it is always difficult for me to do so briefly and with the compassion and honor needed. I only hope that you have been inspired to check out some of his work whether it is the lunatic in “Speed” or the loving but flawed father in “Hoosiers.”