[16 October 2008]
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
CRASH 10 p.m. EDT Friday Starz and Encore
Dennis Hopper’s oxygen-sniffing character of Frank Booth in the 1986 film “Blue Velvet” was a Hall of Fame kind of crazy. The 72-year-old actor also has played characters you would not want to meet in a dark alley in movies such as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and “Hell Ride,” just to name a few.
But, during an interview to promote the new Starz cable series “Crash,” Hopper says the his character in the TV series based on the movie makes all of the rest of the roles he has played over the years look sane.
“He’s as crazy, and probably crazier, than any of them,” Hopper says. “He’s totally out of control. 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.”
The 13-part series comes from producers Glen Mazzara and Bobby Moresco, who were behind the movie of the same name that won the Oscar for best picture in 2005. Don Cheadle, who starred in the feature film, is a co-executive producer for the TV series.
Hopper headlines a cast that also includes Ross McCall, Arlene Tur, Clare Carey, D.B. Sweeney and Luis Chavez. Cheadle’s not certain if he will appear on the show or just work behind the scenes.
When asked if he thought during the making of the film “Crash” that it would make a good television series, Cheadle first jokes he was “drunk for most of the filming of the movie” and doesn’t recall what happened.
He then offers a more serious answer.
“I never saw it as a series, necessarily. But I thought that there were a lot of hanging chads, so to speak, from the film. The energy of where the storylines were going would be interesting, to see how they carried out and how they would further themselves in a series,” Cheadle says. “One of the things that we really had to belabor was what are we trying to take from the film and then what are we trying to go into the series with.
“I think we all pretty much in one way or another came to the realization that the show has to stand on its own.”
The one element that won’t change is how “Crash” shows that the world cannot be seen in strictly black and white terms. The raw emotions in the film, as well as the cable series, will come from the gray areas that exist in the world.
Hopper points out that while his career is full of vile characters, he always has played them as if they were good guys. In the case of “Crash,” he sees his role as having a real duality about it.
“He seems to have a tremendous empathy and understanding of things. And at the same time, he has no limitations as to how he addresses other people or other races or other genders. He’s totally a loose cannon,” Hopper says. “I play a guy that’s very far out. But I don’t see him as a bad guy or a good guy necessarily. I think he has more good feelings for people than bad at the moment.”
Despite all of the wild characters he has played, Hopper says that’s not the only type of role he can handle.
“I’m an actor. I like to act. I love acting and as long as I can act, I will be doing it. But I’m rather a mild-mannered quiet kind of guy, introvert, so these characters that I play have very little to do with my reality,” Hopper says. “Sure, I would love to play that part. But I love this part. He has a lot of different levels. It’s always surprising every time I pick up the script and read it, how my character is out there.”