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.
John Bailey Breaks Down a Tour de Force of Gothic Lighting
The veteran cinematographer takes a close look at the highly stylized and atmospheric lighting in one of the most pivotal scenes in pre-Code classic The Story of Temple Drake.
All About Mankiewicz
One of the most celebrated Hollywood writer-directors of his time, Joseph L. Mankiewicz offers a window into the way he sees his characters in this illuminating clip from an archival interview.
Charisma to Burn: Béatrice Dalle’s Incandescent Debut in Betty Blue
The young French actor didn’t require much direction for her first screen role. As the film’s director and cinematographer recall, she quickly proved herself to be a born star.
How Paweł Pawlikowski Reimagined His Parents’ Fiery Romance for the Big Screen
As the director explains to filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the love story at the heart of the Oscar-nominated drama Cold War has its roots in his own family history.