dennis hopper easy rider Dennis Hopper's battle with drugs, alcoholThe world is mourning the death of Dennis Hopper, age 74, who died Saturday, May 29 after a year-long fight against prostate cancer. But the actor/director/producer/writer/artist fought and won another battle — a personal battle with drugs and alcohol over 27 years ago.

“I’ve been sober now for 18 years,” Hopper told the Dish Rag in 2001, when I visited him at his Venice compound for a profile which appeared in the magazine, Cigar Afficionado. (He loved and collected cigars).

 “With all the drugs, psychedelics and narcotics I did, I was [really] an alcoholic,” he admitted. “Honestly, I only used to do cocaine so I could sober up and drink more.”

]]>In the mid-’60s,
Hopper was part of the global counter-cultural revolution and taking mind-expanding drugs was the norm.

in those days, we were all like guinea pigs,” Hopper remembered. “We
were always waiting for the next new drug. It was like, ‘Hey, gimme
some of that!'”
Of all of Hopper’s memorable film characters,
it has to be Billy in “Easy Rider”, riding his Harley, buckskin jacket
flapping as he defiantly flipped the bird in that final scene, that
will always be considered his most iconic role.

Hopper explained
the appeal of “Easy Rider.”  “The ’60s were almost over when ‘Easy
Rider’ came out. But Hollywood had never addressed the ’60s, drugs,
free love, acid, communes. They were still making movies like ‘Pillow
Talk.’ Young people had stopped going to the movies. They went to
love-ins in Golden Gate Park with 80,000 people dropping acid. Finally,
in ‘Easy Rider,’ they saw themselves.”

“It was an incredible moment,” Hopper said, quietly. “But that’s all it was. A moment.”

But Dennis — thanks to getting sober — had a long film career and gave us more than just that one moment. We thank you for them all, Dennis.

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Photo credits: Columbia Pictures