Monday, May 31, 2010

The "Real" Dennis Hopper

I first heard of Dennis Hopper when I saw the 1986 basketball film Hoosiers in a movie theater back when I was in high school. He played a jittery and vaguely creepy old alcoholic, ultimately to much acclaim. I was amazed that he was able to parlay that same on-screen persona into so many subsequent movie and TV roles over the next decade.  I noticed that the press coverage of his death inevitably mentioned his roles as the creepy villain in each of  Blue Velvet (1986), and Speed (1994) and Waterworld (1995).   But I didn't see any mention of his starring role (as the same character, essentially) in a series of TV commercials for Nike that were absolutely ubiquitous in the mid-1990s.  You can watch one HERE

I was also surprised that very little mention was made in his obituaries of the fact that he was a very highly regarded collector of modern art, and had been since the 1950s. He had been an early buyer of Andy Warhol's work, apparently. You can watch a 4 minute piece HERE wherein he gives a muted and highly knowledgeable tour of the incredible pieces that line the walls of his home, including works by Julian Schnabel, Keith Haring, and Frank Gehry.  If you watch that Nike commercial first, the contrast in his demeanor is so striking. That's the "real" Dennis Hopper among his art collection, I assume.

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