On Tuesday, Gene Hackman released his first novel, Payback at Morning Peak, and Time magazine interviewed him about the book’s release. In the interview, Hackman talked about his retirement from acting. Retirement? How does an actor of his caliber retire?
This week I watched PBS’s “American Masters” on Clint Eastwood and in it I was reminded of how great Hackman was in Unforgiven. It was basically an uncomplicated part that Hackman made complex and interesting. Hackman won his second Oscar for the role. I also recently watched Bonnie and Clyde where Hackman played Clyde’s brother, Buck, for which he received his first Oscar nomination and first gained fame for his film work. Again, I was reminded of Hackman’s ability to take a small part and make it something special.
Inspired by these viewings, I watched Mississippi Burning last night for which Hackman received another well-deserved Oscar nomination. It’s incredible to watch his performance in this film. He plays a deeply flawed FBI agent who knows the Klan too well as his father was a member. His good ol’ boy character evolves over the course of the film. He’s broken, he’s imperfect and he’s tough. The part is so much of what we love in Hackman as an actor that it’s a shame he has given acting up.
In the Time magazine interview, Hackman talks about living in New Mexico where many movies are being shot these days. He talked about still having “wanderlust” for filmmaking and tells a story of pulling up in his car to a young assistant director directing traffic on location for a film. He pulled up and asked if they were hiring for any extras. The woman simply said, “No, I’m very sorry sir.”
You can’t help but wonder if this two-time Oscar winner feels like movie-making no longer needs a man like him in the comic book dominated world that overwhelms movie theatres these days. Less anyone forget, Hackman was Lex Luther in the original Superman movies. We miss you Gene and wish you would continue acting!
Other not to be missed Hackman roles (not mentioned above): The French Connection, Hoosiers, Young Frankenstein, The Firm, Crimson Tide, and Get Shorty.
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“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use “obsession” because aren’t we all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it and make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.