Dennis Hopper's Most Memorable Moments
LIANE HANSEN, host:
Maybe in the end, bad boy Dennis Hopper just couldn't be 75. He died yesterday after a long battle with prostate cancer, less than two weeks after his 74th birthday. The iconic star of "Easy Rider," "Rumble Fish," "Blue Velvet," "Hoosiers," "Apocalypse Now," "Speed," acted across six decades, yet he always seemed to play himself - edgy and unconventional, frequently crotchety, always brilliant, sometimes strange and, yes, even creepy.
The 1986 film "Blue Velvet" was his breakthrough professional rebirth after reining in his demons, the addictions that had nearly ruined his career. Reportedly, after he read the script, Hopper called director David Lynch and said, you have to let me play Frank Booth because I am Frank Booth.
(Soundbite of movie "Blue Velvet")
Mr. DENNIS HOPPER (Actor): (As Frank Booth) Hey, you want to go for a ride?
Mr. KYLE MACLACHLAN (Actor): (As Jeffery Beaumont) No, thanks.
Mr. HOPPER: No thanks - what does that mean?
Mr. MACLACHLAN: I don't want to go.
Mr. HOPPER: Go where?
Mr. MACLACHLAN: For a ride.
Mr. HOPPER: A ride. Hell, that's a good idea. Okay, let's go.
(Soundbite of movie "Speed")
Mr. HOPPER: (As Howard Payne) There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?
(Soundbite of movie "Hoosiers")
Mr. HOPPER: (As shooter) Well, I feel real empty inside. And I have some bad visions.
(Soundbite of movie "Apocalypse Now")
Mr. HOPPER: (As photojournalist) I mean, what are they going to say, man, when he's gone, huh? 'Cause he dies. When it dies, man, when it dies, he dies, what are they going to say about him? Are they going to say he was a kind man? He was a wise man? He had plans?
(Soundbite of movie "Easy Rider")
Mr. HOPPER: (As Billy) No, man. Hey, man. Well, I was watching this object, man, like, like the satellite that we saw the other night, right? And, like, it was just going right across the sky, man. And then, I mean, it just suddenly, it just changed direction and went whizzing right off, man.
HANSEN: Man, oh man. Dennis Hopper, across the decades. He died yesterday at the age of 74.
(Soundbite of song "Ballad of Easy Rider")
THE BYRDS (Band): (Singing) The river flows. It flows to the sea. Wherever that river goes, that's where I want to be. Flow river flow. Let your waters wash down. Take it from this road to some other town. All he wanted was to be free and that's the way it turned out...
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.