Easy Rider legend Dennis Hopper's unflappable veneer belied a man constantly teetering towards his next larger than life incarnation. Influential artist, filmmaker, musician and eccentric, Hopper's crammed and exorbitant life offers a riveting narrative. Director Hermann Vaske knew him well and delivers an often hilarious exposé of the man behind the mask. We discover a delicate and fascinating man, who harboured a troubled soul.
"I think it comes from a very unhappy childhood – not getting enough approval…having to look for it in other places"
, Dennis Hopper claims in an interview. And this is certainly what he got. Hopper quickly gained the approval of Hollywood; so quickly in fact, that he was overwhelmed and decided to retreat from the stage. However, this absence didn't last long and the artist continued his conquest of the world.
In an attempt to explain this success, his friend, the artist and film director Julian Schnabel states: "He represented freedom and rebellion and the outsider. He was rebelling against the ordinary. Against the word 'no'. If someone said he couldn't do it, he tried."
Indeed, one of the things that Hopper was known for was his complete commitment to the characters he played. Isabella Rossellini remembers catching a glimpse of Hopper crying during a scene in Blue Velvet - an aspect of the movie that Lynch decided to keep, although it hadn't been included in the script.
But Hopper's extravagance also engendered tension with his co-workers and actress Diane Kruger reminds us that during the shooting of Apocalypse Now Hopper was so high that he got lost for 10 days in the jungle. Director Roland Klick confirms, "Sure, he was also an asshole."
But drug and alcohol abuse, along with an unpredictable and contrasting personality, didn't stop Hopper from reaching the global acclaim that still defines him. Toas, in New Mexico, continues to celebrate the actor during their annual "Dennis Hopper Day". Packed with the greatest showbiz personalities this doc depicts more than Hopper's life story - reaching also into the underbelly of the chaos that often defined the showbiz industry in the 80s and 90s.
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