In “Easy Rider,” the 1969 film that Dennis Hopper directed and co-wrote, and in which he played a dissolute, countercultural biker named Billy. Thanks to the film, Hopper helped blaze a trail for the young, aggressive filmmakers who would take Hollywood by storm in the 1970s.
Hopper was a prolific photographer, painter, and sculptor whose works are exhibited worldwide.
Over almost six decades as a performer and director, his career spanned a range of Hollywood trends: TV’s live “Golden Age,” films about disillusioned teenagers, a variety of Westerns, anti-establishment dramas, offbeat indie films, action blockbusters and edgy cable series. He often played villains, occasionally lost souls, almost all with a force and empathy.
James Dean, an early friend whom Hopper met when he was 18 and Dean was 24, became a lifelong model, Hopper once said:
Dean was “a guerrilla artist who attacked all restrictions on his sensibility. … I imitated his style in art and in life. It got me in a lot of trouble.”
Hopper carried a lot of baggage with him, but with the help of untold angels and demons he took many an amazing trip. And now, after a lifetime of detours from death, the Easy Rider’s gone.