30 October 2012 5:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

By Ian Pindar

From the age of 19, Dennis Hopper believed that he was a genius. However, late in life even he had to admit that there was a "vast body of crap – most of the 150 films I've been in – this river of shit that I've tried to make gold out of". He started out as a promising young supporting actor in Hollywood, where he fell under the spell of James Dean (they shared an interest in grass and peyote). But when Dean suddenly died, Hopper – who once saw Dean's ghost in the back of his car – went off the rails and ruined his career. Cue descent into alcohol, drugs and violence ("The marriage reached a turning point on the afternoon that Hopper broke his wife's nose"), followed by resurrection as the co-writer, director and star of Easy Rider. In many ways, this enjoyable, well-researched and clear-eyed biography doubles as a cultural history, »

- Ian Pindar

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