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]