Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Director Dennis Hopper Reportedly Lived Like a ‘Character Out of Easy Rider’ on This Movie Set

Director Dennis Hopper Reportedly Lived Like a ‘Character Out of Easy Rider’ on This Movie Set

At one time, Dennis Hopper found himself as the darling of Hollywood thanks to Easy Rider, but that didn’t last long. Imagine making a movie on a shoestring budget and having it score $50-60 million at the box office. Well, that’s what happened to Hopper. That movie’s massive success, reflecting the youth’s unrest in the 1960s, bought Hopper some respect from movie studios.

It also allowed him to be rather excessive in working on his next movie, The Last Movie. Universal Pictures said it would back Hopper’s newest cinematic experience. Speaking of excess, Hopper was becoming a total mess on the set.

For its part, The Last Movie shows what happens when a not-so-satisfied stuntman named Kansas stays in a high-altitude Peruvian village. He’s there as part of a Western film production. When the film crew leaves, Kansas goes on the chase for a young woman’s affections. Meanwhile, locals decided to put on their own “movie” by using makeshift cameras, boom mics, and cranes out of sticks. This style of “filmmaking” blends the line between make-believe and reality.

Dennis Hopper Didn’t Have Control Over Movie Set

Hopper really has no control over the movie’s set. Fellow actors are given the freedom to offer up their own ideas about the script. Oh, let’s talk about drugs. They were readily available and used a lot. The cast members and crew became quite problematic in getting high or stoned out of their minds.

Brad Darrach, writing for Life Magazine, said, “By 10 p.m., almost 30 members of the company were sniffing coke or had turned on with grass, acid, or speed. By midnight, most of the cast had drifted off by twos or threes.”

According to Collider, it was a collaborative atmosphere for principal photography on The Last Movie. Once the filming was done, Hopper headed back to his home in Taos, New Mexico. He needed to pare down up to 40 hours of film.

That process took time and Hopper’s unsteady personality proved to be detrimental for Hopper. Here he was, Hollywood’s Golden Boy after Easy Rider. But that star failed to continue on an upward trend. Universal Pictures, which had been supporting The Last Movie, finally saw a cut. They were not pleased.

In fact, Universal simply would not release The Last Movie to a wide audience. Hopper, though, took the movie to the Venice Film Festival himself. The movie was praised at the film festival. But it failed miserably and would not be a success.

Its failure sent Hopper to the back of the Hollywood bus. He would not find himself back among the elite actors until his appearance in Apocalypse Now.