first two weeks of production (on "The Last Movie" 1970-71) provided
the later much-publicized freak show of partying and drug-taking, things settled
down after that.
According to NEW YORK TIMES reporter Alix
Jeffry: "Hopper inspires something akin to idolatry in his actors,
partly because he permits them tremendous freedom in interpreting their
roles. Improvisation is definitely not frowned upon.
"Thomas Milian, a popular star of Italian
films, puts it this way: 'There's something I admire so much in Dennis. His
brains, what he has inside of him, his personality, and the contradictions.
When I see Dennis, I see James Dean and I see [James] Dean and I see Dennis.
That is very strong.'
"One does get an eerie feeling watching
Hopper. He wears [James] Dean's ring at all times and when he rubs that ring
he seems to become [James] Dean. Seeing this happen, you feel a shiver
suddenly creep up your spine. Everyone pretends not to notice, and in truth
it is never mentioned."
The ring the TIMES writer referred to was a
Mexican bronze and silver ring bearing the face of an idol. It once belonged
to [James] Dean and it came into Dennis's possession after [James] Dean's
And there was another strange story about that
ring. During Lent, toward the end of the movie, the company was sleeping in
an empty church near the town of Puno. One of the actors, Don Gordon,
recalled that in the middle of the night he was awakened by weeping Indians
who entered the church with lighted candles. The Indians stepped over the
Americans in their sleeping bags, to pray before the altar. But Gordon, now
fully awake, went outside. There he found Dennis staring up into the sky at a
comet. Suddenly, eerily, the James Dean ring on his finger broke apart and
the pieces fell to the ground. Dennis was very shaken by the fact that the
ring had fallen apart. He took it to be a bad omen, a warning to get out of
Peru before real disaster overtook his movie.
"Komets were for ages regarded with awe
and sometimes terror." "The spirit of James Dean is in him."