Tom Folsom's new book is Hopper: A Journey into the American Dream.
From his Q & A with Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg for the Wall Street Journal:
What attracted you to Dennis Hopper, who seemed to specialize in artistic maniacs?--Marshal Zeringue
Tom Folsom: I thought his story had a terrific literary quality to it. I saw him as a modern Don Quixote who spent his life in search of his American dream. I always wanted to do a Hollywood story. The thing about actors, though, is that they go through a streak of roles. The question is what’s in between? But his story was actually greater than any of the films he’d been in, with all the ups and downs that follow when you try to live your life like an American western. That was at the heart of Dennis’s crazy magic.
The front endpapers of your book are illustrated by a photo of Peter Fonda and Mr. Hopper riding their motorcycles in a scene from “Easy Rider.” Mr. Hopper appeared in many Hollywood classics, including “Hoosiers,” “Apocalypse Now,” and “Blue Velvet.” Why did “Easy Rider” become his most memorable film?
There’s a documentary quality to it. Nobody was better than Hopper at latching on to what was going on in American culture. He bought one of the first Andy Warhol soup can paintings for $75, although it was never delivered. He had an eye for what was going on and knew how to capture it visually. That’s what made “Easy Rider” great. He was a man of his time. He was on the scene of whatever was happening. Also, what made it really iconic is that...[read on]