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.
A Hidden Figure of the Czechoslovak New Wave Takes the Spotlight
In this excerpt from an interview on the edition of Diamonds of the Night, film programmer Irena Kovarova talks about the work of one of director Jan Němec’s key collaborators, Ester Krumbachová.
Robert Zemeckis Looks Back on His Debut-Film Jitters
In a new conversation with collaborators Bob Gale and Steven Spielberg, the director of I Wanna Hold Your Hand talks about the terror of being a first-time feature director.
How Carlos Reygadas Plans for the Unexpected
Storyboards have been an important part of the Mexican filmmaker’s process from the beginning of his career. In this interview, he talks about the freedom that meticulous pre-planning allows him on-set.