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Here’s Why Dennis Hopper Was The Perfect Actor To Play “Crazy” Roles

Dennis Hopper was one of Hollywood's most notorious wildmen. But how did this boy from Kansas capture paranoia so well?

Dennis Hopper was one of the biggest stars of the 70s and 80s. The actor starred in Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, and Hoosiers and was often typecast as a mentally unstable, paranoid man. But considering his life story, Hopper’s notoriously paranoid and freaked-out style and personality make perfect sense. 

Dennis Hopper’s Spy Father

Born and raised in Kansas, Hopper moved to San Diego where he began acting in local theaters before moving to New York to study at the Actors Studio. But as a child, Hopper had an experience that made him question his whole existence. 

In World War II, Hopper’s father was a spy. His work was so secretive that his family even believed that he had been killed until the day after the war ended when he showed up and explained that the government had faked his death.

Naturally, this would have an immense effect on Hopper. Imagine being told that your father was dead, only for him to return.

Related: Burt Reynolds Offered Michael Corleone Role, But Brando Loathed Him

Dennis Hopper’s Infamous Paranoia And Drug Use

Hopper was one of the last of an era when actors were rough-around-the-edges outcasts who lived life on their own terms without caring about the spotlight.

Toward the end of his life, Hopper’s Venice Beach estate resembled a place straight out of one of his movies. 

via the LA Times

“He was divorcing his fifth wife after 18 years together, obtaining an “emergency restraining order” to keep her at a 10-foot distance. They battled over his valuable artworks. She also filed complaints about him keeping marijuana joints throughout his compound, ready to provide quick relief from pain, and loaded guns in strategic locations, ready to provide quick resolutions.”

Have joints and guns scattered throughout your compound while you’re on your deathbed and divorcing your fifth wife? Hopper was always his own man. 

The Speed star was notorious in Hollywood for his drug use even at a time when everyone in Hollywood was on something. Hopper hated the spotlight so much that he spent over a decade hiding away in Taos, New Mexico, far from the bright lights of Hollywood. 

Dennis Hopper And Art

Hopper built his minimalist compound comprised of four different buildings as a place to live and to display his massive art collection.

Hopper was an artist himself and considered a highly skilled photographer, with some of his work residing in museums. 

In 2010, Hopper would succumb to complications from prostate cancer that had spread to his bones. 

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