TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (7)
|Also Known As:||Eugene Allen Hackman, Eugene Alden Hackman||Died:|
|Born:||January 30, 1930||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||San Bernardino, California, USA||Profession:||actor, TV assistant director, novelist, radio announcer, TV studio floor manager, truck driver, soda jerk, shoe salesman, doorman, mover, radio operator|
Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY
ex Luther in the unnecessary "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" (1987), Hackman delivered a searing performance as a good ole boy FBI agent investigating the murders of civil rights workers in the 1960s-era drama, "Mississippi Burning" (1988), for which he picked up another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. As he entered the 1990s, Hackman remained exceptionally busy, churning out a wide variety of roles. After playing a practical-minded cop who teams up with a partner (Dan Aykroyd) suffering from multiple personality disorder in the miserable "Loose Cannons" (1990), he was a lawyer who enters the courtroom opposite his attorney daughter (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) in Michael Apted's "Class Action" (1991). Though surgery in 1990 for heart problems provoked another hiatus, Hackman roared back with another fascinating role, playing sadistic, but smiling sheriff Little Bill Daggett in Clint Eastwood's revisionist Western "Unforgiven" (1992). Infusing the effective lawman with a streak of decency, the actor sketched a character that was profoundly ambiguous; one that could be either heroic or villainous. Critics and audiences embraced the film and Hackman's character and he earned not only...
ex Luther in the unnecessary "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" (1987), Hackman delivered a searing performance as a good ole boy FBI agent investigating the murders of civil rights workers in the 1960s-era drama, "Mississippi Burning" (1988), for which he picked up another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. As he entered the 1990s, Hackman remained exceptionally busy, churning out a wide variety of roles. After playing a practical-minded cop who teams up with a partner (Dan Aykroyd) suffering from multiple personality disorder in the miserable "Loose Cannons" (1990), he was a lawyer who enters the courtroom opposite his attorney daughter (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) in Michael Apted's "Class Action" (1991). Though surgery in 1990 for heart problems provoked another hiatus, Hackman roared back with another fascinating role, playing sadistic, but smiling sheriff Little Bill Daggett in Clint Eastwood's revisionist Western "Unforgiven" (1992). Infusing the effective lawman with a streak of decency, the actor sketched a character that was profoundly ambiguous; one that could be either heroic or villainous. Critics and audiences embraced the film and Hackman's character and he earned not only stellar reviews but numerous prizes, all of which was capped by a second Oscar, this time as the year's Best Supporting Actor.
Healthy and in-demand, Hackman embarked on another round of seemingly non-stop roles. While Sydney Pollack cast him as the burnt-out lawyer and mentor to Tom Cruise who is powerless to help his protégé in "The Firm" (1993), the actor displayed a sudden fondness for Westerns. He was a sympathetic general in "Geronimo: An American Legend" (1993), the moral compass of "Wyatt Earp" (1994) as the family's patriarch, and in an almost-spoof of Little Bill, played a gunslinger in the loopy "The Quick and the Dead" (1995). Loosening up a bit, Hackman displayed his assured comedic gifts as a schlock horror filmmaker who runs afoul of a Mafia boss (Dennis Farina) tracking down a loan collector (John Travolta) who embarks on a movie career in "Get Shorty" (1995). After a turn as a conservative politician who plays straight man ¿ on more than one level ¿ to Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in "The Birdcage" (1996), Hackman began to display a darker side, playing a sinister surgeon in "Extreme Measures" (1996) and a racist killer on death row in "The Chamber" (1996). He excelled in his next two performances, playing a U.S. President embroiled in a murder investigation in "Absolute Power" (1997) and a renegade NSA agent in the thriller "Enemy of the State" (1998), a role that was an overt nod to his performance in "The Conversation."
Having done all he could do in Hollywood, Hackman entered the world of publishing with his first novel, Wake of the Perdido Star (1999), which he co-wrote with author Daniel Lenihan. While 1999 marked the first year he failed to appear in a single feature film, Hackman returned the following year with a turn in "The Replacements" (2000), playing the NFL coach of a rag-tag group of players filling in for a striking team. Later he was featured in "Under Suspicion," Stephen Hopkins' nervy reworking of the French film "Garde a vu" (1982), playing a wealthy attorney suspected of rape and murder. After an uncredited cameo in "The Mexican" (2001), he had a charming role as a billionaire reeled in by mother-daughter beauties (Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt) in the unremarkable con-women comedy "Heartbreakers" (2001). Next he headed the impressive cast of David Mamet's low-key thriller, "Heist" (2001), with a note-perfect and effortless performance that was tinged with both bravado and vulnerability as an almost untouchable veteran master thief. Hackman followed up with a role as a steely admiral who risks his career when he puts people over politics in an effort to save a maverick navigator (Owen Wilson) shot down in Bosnia in "Behind Enemy Lines" (2001).
Though he was a steady presence on the big screen, Hackman's career began to show signs of slowing down. While at the time most were unaware, the veteran actor was on his way to retirement. He did, however, have one more great performance in him, which he delivered in Wes Anderson's droll family dramedy, "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001), in which he played the titular patriarch of a dysfunctional family of geniuses (Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke Wilson). Anderson admitted to creating the funny, but ultimately endearing role for Hackman, though the actor had vocally opposed such endeavors in the past. Any objections were quickly silenced when the actor won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. After receiving a special Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes ceremony in 2003, Hackman was next seen on screen in "Runaway Jury" (2003), playing Rankin Fitch, a high-priced and morally bankrupt jury consultant who stops at nothing to control the outcome of a crucial trail verdict. For the first time in his career, Hackman played opposite his friend and fellow actor voted least likely to succeed, Dustin Hoffman.
In the political satire "Welcome to Mooseport" (2004), Hackman played a former U.S. president who runs for mayor of a small Maine town against a local hardware store owner and plumber (Ray Romano). Not his best work by any stretch, "Mooseport" wound up being the final film Hackman appeared in to date, marking the start to his unofficial retirement. Hackman confirmed on a 2004 airing of "Larry King Live" (CNN, 1985-2010) that he had no projects lined up and believed that his acting career was indeed over. Meanwhile, he continued to co-author novels with Daniel Lenihan, including Justice for None (2006) and Escape from Andersonville (2009), which dramatized a prison break from Fort Sumter during the Civil War.
By Shawn Dwyerto paranoia and suspicion. Hackman next delivered a short, but well-remembered cameo role as a blind hermit who fumbles his efforts to provide aid and comfort to the misunderstood monster (Peter Doyle) in Mel Brooks' horror spoof, "Young Frankenstein" (1974), starring Gene Wilder and Teri Garr. For the first time, audiences were able to see Hackman's sharp comic abilities, which to that point were woefully unexplored. Following starring roles in the Western "Zandy's Bride" (1974) and the noir crime drama "Night Moves" (1975), Hackman reprised Popeye Doyle, who tracks down the escaped Frog One (Fernando Rey) to Marseilles, in the mediocre, but still well-acted sequel, "The French Connection II" (1975).
By the mid- to late-1970s, Hackman's career went into a bit of a slide, following starring turns in such underwhelming movies like "March or Die" (1977) and "The Domino Principle" (1977). By the time he was showcasing his high camp villain Lex Luthor in "Superman" (1978), Hackman had prematurely announced his retirement after nearly non-stop work that had left him physically and emotionally drained. Spending his time painting in a West Los Angeles apartment, Hackman was eventually pulled back into the game by old friend Warren Beatty, who convinced the actor to play magazine editor Peter Van Wherry in the epic historical drama "Reds" (1981). While he was miscast opposite Barbra Streisand in the triangular romantic comedy "All Night Long" (1981), he was right at home in the action-adventure "Uncommon Valor" (1983) and the gripping political thriller "Under Fire" (1983). Hackman brought depth and conviction to his performance as a straying husband undergoing a mid-life crisis in "Twice in a Lifetime" (1985), perhaps in part inspired by his 1982 divorce from first wife, Faye Maltese. Re-energized after his self-imposed exile, Hackman went on to etch several memorable characterizations in the 1980s, including a small-town high school basketball coach in "Hoosiers" (1986) and a cold-hearted Secretary of Defense in the thriller "No Way Out" (1987).
Following a reprisal of L
Filmographyclose complete filmography
CAST: (feature film)
Milestones close milestones
When he is in New York, Hackman teaches at the New Actors Workshop, a two-year professional actor training program.
In addition to writing novels, Hackman also paints landscapes.
"It becomes tougher and tougher for me to be directed. It isn't that I feel I know everything. I just find myself being frustrated. I'm kind of impossible." --Hackman to The New York Times Magazine, March 19, 1989.
"He is Everyman on the one hand, and yet, he's an Ubermensch. He has a broad spectrum of gifts, a combination of sensitivity and toughness. That's why he's done what he's done." --Warren Beatty to Premiere, February 1991.
Hackman had heart surgery in June 1990 after which he slowed down his work load. "The illness left the actor and sometime sketch artist determined to move to the marble quarries of Carrera, Italy, to become a sculptor. But "Unforgiven" changed things ... " --From "Tough Guys Don't Talk" in Newsday, June 19, 1994.
"Gene is not your run-of-the-mill actor. He's really special, and right now he's at the top of his form--almost a Zen-like place in his acting, where you don't see the effort." --Sydney Pollack to Newsday, June 19, 1994.
"When you start having a little more confidence in what you do as an actor, that starts to show, and then people start giving you more and more confident characters to play, and then you become typed with that. I'm not a tough guy at all--but I'm capable of playing some of those guys." --Gene Hackman quoted in Us, March 1996.
"I like to work. But I don't like the business. All the backstabbing. The uncomfortable atmosphere on some sets. But it's a trade-off." --Hackman quoted in USA Today, October 11, 1996.
"Gene charges a lot of money for what he does. And he gives you your money's worth. And that's the most you can say about anyone, whether they're a waiter or an actor." --Clint Eastwood to USA Today, October 11, 1996.
"I'm not saying he's the only great American actor, but there's no better American actor alive today." --director Robert Benton (who guided Hackman in "Twilight") quoted by Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, March 11, 1998.
On his status as an "Everyman", Hackman told the Associated Press (March 11, 1998): "One would like to think of oneself as being special, as being artistic or romantic. Not common. I mean, Everyman means common in some kind of way. And common doesn't denote any kind of artistic talent or artistic intent. So, in some ways, it sounds to me like a put-down. But I don't think people necessarily mean it that way."
"Things haven't always gone the way I've wanted, but look, I know I've been very lucky. I've had more than my fair share of success, and the audiences are still good to me." --Hackman on being considered a character actor, to The Daily Telegraph, July 20, 2000.
"When I'm acting I really feel that I'm doing what I was set on Earth to do, the only thing that I really know how to do well." --Gene Hackman
Hackman has provided the voice-overs for numerous TV commercials, perhaps most notably for United Airlines.
"The Royal Tenenbaums" director Wes Anderson on Hackman to the Los Angeles Times (December 16, 2001): "There's something very charismatic in him, even when he's being his worst. There is something about him that gives him a kind of gravity that is pretty rare. When they are playing a scene where there is sadness or something gentle, he can be extremely sad and gentle. When they are playing a scene where they need to turn on the rage, he can be scary at the drop of a hat. That is the way he will attack a scene -- with everything he's got." December 16, 2001.
"Three movies is slowing down for me. I have that old thing in me from the early days when you couldn't get a job and you want to take everything that's offered to you. I don't know if I've ever had a moment when I 'made it' in Hollywood. I don't think about that." -- Hackman on "Heist", "Behind Enemy Lines" and "The Royal Tenenbaums", released in quick succession in November and December of 2001, quoted in Boston Herald, December 21, 2001.
"I just knew I could; I really did. Every Saturday if I could get a quarter to go [to the movies], I'd go, and when I'd leave, I'd look in the mirror and be stunned that I didn't look like James Cagney. I'd be so in tune with what he was doing - I'd become that guy - that a real period of depression would follow. [I'd think], 'How am I gonna be that guy if I don't look like that guy?' I finally realized that I could just be me, and if I was good enough, that would work." --Hackman to Premiere magazine on how he always knew he could act
Companions close complete companion listing
Bibliography close complete biography
Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.Click here to contribute