The Hackman Connection: Talking with Gene

The Crimson recently participated in a press conference with the legendary actor Gene Hackman. Despite being 71 years old, the Academy Award-winner is still going strong, and has three films coming out this holiday season.

Q: How do you choose which military characters you play?

A: I think they kind of choose me really. I don’t go out of my way to do military characters. I’ve done a few, and I’ve been told I look like one of those guys, so they’re kind of happy circumstances for me.

Q: Do you feel typecast at all?

A: Well, yeah. I think everyone does. Hopefully you can modify things in terms of casting to some degree but there are certain things people don’t think of me for. I think I can play anything, but of course, (laughs) every actor thinks that.


Q: Would you care to comment about your Sunset Heights fracas?

A: It’s kind of an infamous day for me, just one of those things that happens to people during these times. Road rage is something that we all live with and have to deal with in various ways.

Q: How do you think this film will speak to the nation’s newfound patriotism?

A: I would hope that it would play very well because it is a film that is sympathetic to the U.S.’s position in a lot of areas. We are put into a variety of boxes that we have to think or fight our way out of, and I think this film kind of accepts life.

Q: Owen Wilson mentioned that you handpicked him for his role after you saw him in Shanghai Noon. Considering how disparate these roles are, could you describe what you saw in him that made you think he fit the part?

A: Owen, I thought, in Shanghai Noon was wonderful. I thought he looked like a real movie star in the film, or at least a real actor playing a movie star that wasn’t in a movie about a movie star. I love that kind of theatricality that some people are able to do. When I saw that I talked to my agent and we recommended the studio go seek him out, and they agreed with us.

Q: You had mentioned that you were taking a break from movies for health reasons, yet you have three films coming out this fall. What happened?

A: For me that’s less. I still have this mentality from the old days when it was hard to get a job, so I try to juggle work. I do want to slow down though.

Q: The French Connection is coming out on DVD—do you have a favorite moment from filming it?

A: The whole film is a favorite moment of mine because it was such an important change for me as an actor. It kind of changed my perception of the business so I look fondly on that film.