Crash star’s health crisis
D ENNIS Hopper went so far as to put his life on the line— by postponing crucial treatment for deadly prostate cancer — to finish shooting the second series of LA-based drama series Crash.
It’s a measure of Hopper’s stalwart show-must-go-on commitment to his starring role as a Phil Spector-esque crazed record producer (Ben Cendars). As with the 2004 movie
Crash, which led to this series, a racy and racially provocative script interweaves and collides storylines and characters in apparently random ways. Single episodes are great for the occasional fast-and-furious joyride, but the series richly rewards those in for the long haul.
A warning though. Crash has an MA rating, and you could argue the violence, gore, sex and obscenities are seriously R-rated.
Crash is jam-packed with corrupt cops, South Korean gangsters, extramarital action . . . and some trifling middleclass domestics, perhaps so viewers can catch their breath.
Hopper’s pistol-packing producer is the most disturbing. You feel he could blow anyone’s head off at any second.
The great mystery at the start of the second series is why his new chauffeur doesn’t run for his life while he has the chance.
Hopper is spruiking Dennis Hopper and the New Hollywood, a celebration of his work at Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne’s Federation Square.
He was meant to be here for the exhibition but was forced to cancel because of ill-health.
‘‘ I’ve had prostate cancer for the past 10 years,’’ Hopper says.
‘‘ I was radiated for it 10 years ago but they didn’t quite get it all, so I’ve been on medication and managing it. Now we’re trying a new treatment that’s coming out of Japan.
‘‘ I’ve been doing a television series ( Crash), so I’ve put this off for some time.’’
An ACMI staffer says US reports of Hopper being on his death bed are greatly exaggerated. During the show’s run, ACMI’s people have spoken regularly with Hopper’s.
They say he is doing fine and ‘‘ chilling out at home keeping a low profile’’ — while focusing on his highly publicised divorce.
The 73-year-old Hollywood bad boy and his doctor claim harassment by his ex-wife is a more immediate threat to his life than cancer.
An affidavit to the court from one of his physicians, Dr David Agus, states it is his
‘‘ belief and recommendation that the less Mr Hopper has to do with his estranged wife at this time, the more likely he is to have his life extended’’.
Entertainment website E! Online suggests Hopper — who rose to infamy in 1969 as a coke-dealing, dope-smoking, acid-dropping hippie biker in
Easy Rider — may have one consolation for his suffering: ‘‘ medical marijuana’’. Certainly his Crash character tokes plantations of the stuff, obligingly rolled up by his new chauffeur.
Over the decades, Hopper’s crazed baddies have included a murderous Australian bushranger ( Mad Dog Morgan, 1976), psychotic criminal Frank Booth in Blue Velvet (1986), the mad bomber in
Speed (1994) and sadistic Ukrainian political tyrant Victor Drazen in 24. Hopper says his character in
Crash is ‘‘ as crazy and probably crazier than any of them’’.
‘‘ He’s totally out of control. He’s a . . . well, Phil Spector and I shared offices for about 10 years,’’ Hopper says with a laugh.
‘‘ He’s a music mogul who wants to get one last big hit going, and he’s totally off the wall. He changes directions about 20 times in a minute. But, you know, it’s a great part.
‘‘ It’s beautifully written and we have no language barriers or sexual. It’s just free. It’s as free as television will ever be.’’
Maybe for Hopper — as shorter-lived ’ 60s icon Janis Joplin sang — freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.
Crash (MA), Foxtel Showcase, Tuesday, 8.30pm King of the bad guys:
Dennis Hopper is mad about his role in