Simply put, the man
was a giant and a legend.
By Fred Mills
Hopper had been in the news frequently since his illness was
disclosed to the public last September, including a contentious divorce battle
with fifth wife Victoria Duffy, for his work on a book of his photography, and
for his involvement with television series Crash. On March 26 he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame where a
visibly frail hopper posed with his friend and fellow actor Jack Nicholson.
The man’s filmography is impressive even by “veteran actor”
standards, as this long list at his Wikipedia page attests. Among his iconic
roles were Rebel Without A Cause, The
Trip, Apocalypse Now, Hoosiers, Blue Velvet and of course Easy Rider. And his wild-child image,
though a checkered one that sometimes got in the way of Hopper’s career
advancing, was almost as memorable as his acting. That he later grew up and out
of that image and came back for the proverbial second act was inspiring to
actors and fans alike.
On a personal note: in regards to Easy Rider, which Hopper
directed in addition to sharing lead actor duties with Peter Fonda, I’ll never
forget seeing the 1969 movie as a young teenager and memorizing lines uttered
by Hopper, Fonda and Jack Nicholson. I also identified strongly with the
hippies-and-rebels themes that ran through the movie and, since I lived in the
south at the time and knew my share of unreconstructed rednecks, I found the
ending (in which Hopper and Fonda get blown away by a shotgun-wielding,
pickup-truck driving redneck) both profoundly moving and disturbing. To my
impressionable young, budding-countercultural mind, Hopper’s long-haired,
buckskin-clad, David Crosbyesque character was one of the more memorable ones I
had seen in cinema up until that point – and, quite probably, to this day.
Rest in peace you crazy motherfucker.