Legendary Hollywood badass Dennis Hopper died this morning from complications of prostate cancer. The actor was surrounded by family and friends when he passed, according to Reuters and other sources. Hopper was probably best known for his role as actor and director of 1969’s Easy Rider.

Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper

Memories of Dennis Hopper are being tossed around left and right this morning as the news of his passing spreads throughout the world. Hopper was not only a critically acclaimed actor but he is also one of the most recognizable faces and presences of film-goers for generations. We know him, at least in the capacity that he has shared with us on screen for over fifty years of his existence, and the news of his death is a little punch to the gut, considering it seemed like Dennis would flip the bird at death when it finally did come a-knockin’.

If there is one thing to be said about Dennis Hopper, it is that he wasn’t afraid to get ugly. In the face of life, he was all about living it, and that was shown through and through both in his films and in the way that he lived his personal life. He went through five wives, participated in substance abuse that would have probably killed anyone else years ago, was accused of domestic abuse, and was an overall…well, Rebel Without a Cause (which he appeared in alongside James Dean in 1955). He believed in art, and he believed in sacrificing himself for the sake of it, which we saw him do repeatedly throughout his years on screen as he consistently allowed himself to dive into the corrupt brains of evil villains varying from “Howard Payne” in Speed to the Photo Journalist in Apocalypse Now, nevermind the maniac he played in Blue Velvet. Not only that, but Hopper was also an art collector, sculptor and a painter as well as a noted photographer.

Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper

It is my understanding that Hopper wasn’t the easiest person to work with or be around. The things that went on inside of his head are beyond most of our comprehension, but that is quite possibly what makes them so special and in turn, what made him so special and so talented. To be a real actor, it is required to dive a little deeper into the abyss that is our psyche, and it is clear to me that Hopper broke through many of his own walls so that he could offer himself up for our entertainment. That is a gift that will be missed. Dennis Hopper is a gift that will be missed.

Hopper has two films that have yet to be released, the animated children’s movie Alpha and Omega which is out September 17th and a film titled The Last Film Festival, which will hopefully be out next year. He is survived by four children.

Below the jump is a video essay by critic Matt Zoller Seitz called Dennis Hopper: The Middle Word In Life, which focuses “on Hopper’s life force: his personality, his philosophy; his thrilling, often contradictory, sometimes abrasive or ugly sense of what acting and filmmaking and art and life should be.” It’s a beautiful montage of Hopper‘s work, and I can’t imagine a better send off. Credit for the video goes to Moving Image Source. Rest in peace, Dennis Hopper.

PREVIOUSLY: Alpha and Omega Trailer Starring Justin Long and Hayden Panettiere (and Dennis Hopper)

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