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Million Dollar Movie

I love Gene Hackman as much as I’ve ever loved any actor.

Dig this short Q&A with Hackman from the latest issue of GQ:

GQ: You worked with Coppola on The Conversation. He’s a director who has a “reputation.” Tell me about that movie.

Hackman: He wanted Brando for that part. But it’s not too bad to be second to Brando. [laughs] We rehearsed—normally you don’t get a lot of rehearsal in films. We took advantage of Francis having some juice, because he’d just finished The Godfather. It was a good experience, because he’s such a confident filmmaker. It was great because it was about something. It was about paranoia, the whole idea of eavesdropping. He’s a very hands-on director, but after rehearsal he left me alone. But you knew what was required of you. Most directors, if sensitive at all and think an actor knows what he’s doing in a film, have the good sense to leave him alone, and he did that.

GQ: If someone were to portray you, what would be the key to “getting” you?

Hackman: That’s a tough one. Almost anything one would say would sound egotistical. [pauses] I’d like to think that if an actor was playing me, that he would do me in an honest fashion. I always try to approach the work in that way, regardless of how good or bad the script. When I say “honest,” I say to portray what is on the page, instead of what maybe people might think of me or what I would like them to think of me in terms of personality or charisma. But just be what is asked of me on the page.

[Drawing by Jerry Vaughan]


1 bp1   ~  Jun 2, 2011 10:57 am

Great article, Alex. Thanks for pointing it out to us.

I'm a Hackman fan as well. He used the word "honesty" a lot when describing his acting. Another that comes to mind is "authentic". He always seems to play each part as if the part was written for him - which I believe is quite a talent. He never seemed to be acting, avoiding those Tom Cruise "look at me - I'm really acting now" moments. He just delivered - and he was believable. I'm certainly no movie critic - or student of the craft for that matter - but as a dedicated member of the movie going public, he has rarely disappointed me.

One of my favorite Hackman roles was the submarine captain in Crimson Tide, with Denzel.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 2, 2011 11:53 am

Authentic is a good one. Even though I know it's Gene Hackman on the screen I almost always find him believable.

3 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jun 2, 2011 8:43 pm

Love the guy, and you won't see any better acting than him as Harry Caul in "The Conversation".

4 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 2, 2011 9:56 pm

He was really good in a strange movie made in L.A. by a Frenchman called "All Night Long." Barbara Streisand is in it and her performance is close to shrill but Hackman is really good.

5 Matt Blankman   ~  Jun 3, 2011 10:27 am

Its worth noting how well he plays comedy, too. His work in Get Shorty and the Superman movies is hilarious.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 3, 2011 10:39 am

5) Absolutely. Great in "The Birdcage" too.

7 Matt Blankman   ~  Jun 3, 2011 2:13 pm

[6] There's a lot of humor in his performance in Scarecrow, too, though its not a comedy.

8 Greg G   ~  Jun 3, 2011 6:42 pm

I can't believe he is in his 80's.

One of my favorite actors. Seamless in his style of acting.

I saw The Royal Tennenbaums again recently and although I found it fairly disappointing the first time I saw it shortly after it was released, I enjoyed it more the 2nd time and that was mostly due to Hackman. You could see it in all the cast members that he brought up their game in every scene with him.

I hope he makes more movies.

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