Saturday, May 29, 2010

R.I.P. Dennis Hopper (1936-2010)

Dennis HopperHollywood legend Dennis Hopper has died at his home in California earlier today from complications of prostate cancer, aged 74. Hopper - who had battled the illness for almost a year and had recently received a long-overdue star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - enjoyed a career that spanned over half a century. He achieved critical success as an actor, filmmaker, photographer and artist, as well as cult status for his roles in classic films such as Easy Rider (1969), Apocalypse Now (1979) and Blue Velvet (1986).

Born in Dodge City, Kansas, Hopper made his screen debut in 1955 alongside James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause and featured in Dean's final film Giant the following year. After a host of supporting film and TV roles throughout the 60s Hopper enjoyed a career breakthrough as co-writer, director and star of Easy Rider, receiving the Prix de la premiere oeuvre (First Work Award) along with an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay with Peter Fonda and Terry Southern.

Although his next directorial effort The Last Movie (1971) won the Critic's Prize at the Venice Film Festival, the film's disappointing performance forced Hopper to step back from Hollywood and he spent much of the 70s appearing in low budget affairs while battling drug and alcohol addiction. During this period he starred in Francis Ford Coppolla's epic Vietnam War movie Apocalypse Now and returned to the director's chair for 1980's Out of the Blue.

Entering rehab in 1983, Hopper began his comeback that same year with acclaimed performances in Rumble Fish and The Osterman Weekend before his iconic turn as sadistic villain Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Hoosiers helped to revitalise his fortunes. He would spend much of the remainder of his career in supporting roles in films such as True Romance (1993), along with villainous turns in a host of movies including Red Rock West (1992), Super Mario Bros. (1993), Speed (1994), Waterworld (1995) and Land of the Dead (2005).

Hopper's last feature appearance came in 2008 with Wim Wenders' Palermo Shooting, while his final performance - voice work for the upcoming computer animation Alpha and Omega - is set for release later this year.

Cult Classics: Easy Rider (1969)
Movies... For Free! Night Tide (1961)

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