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May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper, Actor, Icon, Unexpected Conservative, Dead at 74

Strange and compelling man.

And a conservative, too, as weird it is to imagine him as such.

But Hopper is still part of the counterculture -- only in liberal, Democratic Los Angeles, that means being a registered Republican.

"I've always been political," Hopper says, "but I haven't always been a Republican. I was with Martin Luther King [and] at the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley. I was a hippie. I was probably as Left as you could get without being a Communist."

Asked what happened, Hopper says, "I read too much Thomas Jefferson and decided that every 25 years you needed to have a change if you're really going to have a republic, and the Democrats had been in power too long."

This was about the time that Ronald Reagan was campaigning for the 1980 presidential election.

"I never cared for Reagan, very honestly," Hopper says. "I thought he was a bad actor. I never thought he was a great communicator, didn't think he was a great speaker.

"But the idea of changing the Congress, changing the Senate, getting the Democrats out, getting the Republicans in, also the idea of having less government -- which didn't seem to work out."

What began as a philosophy of political change turned into a change of political philosophy.

"The idea of less government," Hopper says, "more individual freedom, is something that I liked. I started believing it. So I started voting. I voted that time for Reagan, and I've voted on the straight Republican ticket ever since. I don't go to meetings, I don't go to things. I just go to the polls and do it."

He adds, "I think I just made the natural curve. You've got to start one place and go all the way around."

Hopper has discovered that, while many in Los Angeles pride themselves on their tolerance, some things still ruffle their feathers.

"The controversy about me," Hopper says, "I don't think it's going to stop me. However, a lot of people treat me differently, and they do bring it up. I'll be at a dinner party, and somebody will say, 'Well, you couldn't be thinking that ...' And then you realize that everybody at the table is looking at you, and they're like, 'You're kidding! You're not really for Bush.' And it goes around the table."

Greatest Stand-Off and F-You Ever: Content warning -- Hopper goes there in attempting to insult his Sicilian executioner.

"No -- I'm quotin', it's history, it's written."

When I wrote this post, I wanted to add that I get a strange, unconfirmed vibe that Walken swings conservative too -- and I couldn't remember why when I thought of Hopper I immediately thought of Walken, too.

Now I see, thanks to a commenter, why I made that connection. These two are linked forever by this scene.



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posted by Ace at 04:38 PM

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