Dennis Hopper: The Middle Word in Life
A video collage for Moving Image Source by Matt Zoller Seitz

If the pleasure of his performance is tinged with discomfort, it’s because Mr. Hopper has apparently never been afraid of looking ridiculous — an important quality for performers. Few actors can navigate the line between terror and comedy as unnervingly, evidenced by his mesmerizing turn in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet.” Where does that character end and Mr. Hopper begin? You don’t know, and that not knowing is the space in which Mr. Hopper works.
Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 4/11/10

It’s not surprising but no less sad to learn that Dennis Hopper has died from complications of the prostate cancer he was diagnosed with last October. I can’t think of a better way to send the man off than by going back to Matt Zoller Seitz’s video essay and Manohla Dargis’ appreciation from back in April when a frail and gaunt looking Mr. Hopper turned up on Hollywood Boulevard for the unveiling of his star on the Walk of Fame.

Goodbye  Goon, Billy, Moon, Kansas, Tom Ripley, Shooter and Feck. RIP Frank Booth.

3 Responses to “Dennis Hopper, Actor/Director: 1936 – 2010”

  1. He changed my opinion of Heineken before I’d ever even had a beer with his performance in Blue Velvet, one of the singular experiences of my adolescence that shaped the fan of cinema I would become. He was truly an original and his unique approach to acting, directing, and life itself set him apart as a true maverick (sorry, that word has been beaten to death but it’s appropriate here).

    RIP Mr Hopper. You will certainly be missed.

  2. Yep, just heard this inevitable announcement, one we had just discussed a short while ago at this site. It’s a big loss, as he was a larger-than-life actor who made his mark in a number of iconic performances. His role as Frank Booth is without question the one that he will be eternally remembered by, and his delicious one-liners in that Lynch masterpiece will always come up in movie conversations with friends. I always laugh when I remember that he won his Oscar that year for HOOSIERS, an award that even shocked and infuriated Hopper (when the nominations were announced.) Of course his work in EAST RIDER is special as well.


  3. Manohla’s quote nails it. There is a special thrill one gets from watching performances that fearlessly expose self – as actor and individual. Hopper was utterly fascinating as a human being but hard to nail down given so many varied and striking manisfestations – flower child hippie, drug-addled wreck, post-addict mad/dangerous, contained/composed and urbane. Like Joel, Blue Velvet was a semnial work in my development as a film lover and Hopper’s Frank Booth was a big part of what made the film like nothing I had ever seen before.

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