For the lead role of Tom Ripley in Wim Wenders’s The American Friend, a melancholy neonoir that fused Wenders’s New German sensibility with classic Hollywood drama, the director needed an actor who could convey menace with complexity. Wenders had his eye on John Cassavetes for the role, hoping his emotional intelligence and filmmaker’s insight would provide another layer to the soul of Ripley. Cassavetes turned down the offer but recommended fellow actor-director Dennis Hopper, and Wenders soon came to realize that Hopper’s eccentric persona embodied the mysterious, ominous quality he was after. (Wenders went on to fill the rest of the film’s roster of crooks and gangsters with other legendary directors—the American titans Samuel Fuller and Nicholas Ray and the French New Wave hero Jean Eustache.) In the video below, Wenders discusses how Hopper’s idiosyncratic interpretation of Ripley brought the character to life.
Liv Ullmann Recalls “Shattering” Moments on the Set of Shame
While working on Ingmar Bergman’s devastating antiwar film, the actress developed an emotionally intense chemistry with her costar Max von Sydow.
The Real-Life Rage That Fueled Lee Grant in In the Heat of the Night
In this excerpt from a new interview, the actor talks about how she channeled her political anger in the role of a distraught widow in Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning crime drama.
Writing with the Body: Mikey and Nicky as an Actors’ Showcase
Elaine May populated her gangster-film masterpiece with acting heavyweights who could bring spontaneity to their roles. Critics Richard Brody and Carrie Rickey talk about her approach to performance in this clip.
How Hitchcock Pulled off a Shot for the Ages
Award-winning cinematographer John Bailey discusses the complications that Alfred Hitchcock faced trying to execute one of the most ambitious shots in his filmography.