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The Crash TV series made Starz a player in the original programming field. Gearing up for a second season, Dennis Hopper returns as Ben Cendars. The irascible music exec easily steals the spotlight from the rest of the show’s ensemble. Perhaps adding new cast members like Eric Roberts can give Hopper some balance.

“I'm really enjoying it,” Hopper said. “I'm playing a Phil Spector-type music mogul who has orgies, plays with guns and knives, and abuses drugs and alcohol. So it's a really interesting character and the cast has been incredible.”

His co-star Roberts chimed in, “What’s not to love?” Roberts is also relishing his character as a billionaire trying to bring a football franchise to Los Angeles. It’s a major change of pace for his career.

“I’m excited about it because it’s the kind of character they never offer me anymore,” Roberts told Dish. “Ever since 1982 they don’t offer me nice people. Ever since Star80 they offer me psychopaths and nuts which I love playing and have a great time.  I like playing bad guys. They aren’t black or white or good or bad but grey, and I have a good time doing that. [This character] is a mortal saint.”

Both actors have excelled at portraying psychopaths and killers. Hopper is most famous for the mad bomber in Speed and the violent sex fiend of Blue Velvet. Roberts gained early notice for playing Playmate Dorothy Stratten’s murderer in Star80, and recently The Dark Knight’s mobster Salvatore Maroni. The veteran performers admire each other’s work too.

"Pope of Greenwich Village,” was Hopper’s choice for favorite Eric Roberts movie. Roberts qualified his pick from Hopper’s ouvre.

“It sounds like a pat answer because everybody loves the movie so much, everybody knows the movie, but Easy Rider is up there with [Samuel] Beckett,” Roberts said. “I mean, it's one of those contemporary movies that was way ahead of its time and even now holds up.  And Dennis kicked ass.”

Crash will not be the first time Hopper and Roberts work together, though Roberts would prefer Hopper not mention their previous films Blood Red and Luck of the Draw. “We don't want to talk about that, Dennis,” Roberts warned. “Terrible movie[s].  I made a couple.”

The elder, Hopper, admitted, “I made more than a couple.”

The actors have been friends long before they made their forgettable films together. “I couldn’t even tell you where we met, it’s been so long ago,” Roberts said. “It’s been like 25 years ago, maybe even longer. We are just pals. We just like each other’s company. I love his work and I love him.”

CrashBoth actors had dabbled in television before joining Crash. Hopper starred in the short-lived E-Ring and recurred on one season of 24. Roberts recurred on Heroes and starred on the sitcom Less Than Perfect. The film veterans speak highly of both mediums.

“You don't have as much time, but I've worked in a lot of independent films through the years, so it doesn't get that much different,” Hopper said. “I've had a lot of dialogue in this series, so that's been the most difficult part for me.  Beyond that, we work 15, sometimes 17 hours, but we have a great crew.  Never heard anyone complain, except me but nobody listens to me, so it's okay.  But really, the crew and the cast are just wonderful. I'm having a joyous time, even though it's difficult.  But since we're shooting other episodes, we have our three days off and four days off, every two weeks.  So it's a nice schedule.”

Roberts concurred. “What he said,” is all Roberts added to the TV versus Film debate.

When Dish interviewed Hopper last year for the first season of Crash, he had just relocated to Albuquerque, N.M. where the show films for budgetary reasons. Hopper keeps a home in Los Angeles for those 3-4 day weekends he mentioned above.

“I have to be in Albuquerque three days a week so that was a big decision too, but we're working through it,” Hopper said last year. “I've taken a hotel room. I used to live in Taos, N.M. so my brother and my cousins all live up in Taos. So I have a choice of coming back to L.A. where my family is or going up to Taos where my family is. So it's beginning to work out, haven't quite figured it out yet."

Now Albuquerque has grown on Hopper. “I used to think of Albuquerque as one big gas station, because I lived in Taos, NM and tried to get out of there as soon as possible,” Hopper told Dish this year. “I’m beginning to enjoy Albuquerque too. It’s quite an interesting city.”

Crash has not stopped Hopper from pursuing other artistic endeavors on the side. Last fall, the Cinematheque Francais in Paris showed classic Dennis Hopper movies and exhibited Hopper’s own photos and artwork from his personal collection.

"They've been working on [this show] for five years,” Hopper said before its premiere. “They're showing 50 films and they're taking about half of my art collection and half of my work and exhibiting it in Paris in the Frank Gehry building.”

This year, Hopper has more plans for cultural activities, including shows displaying his personal art collection. “We have a big show that’s happening at the Cinemateque in Melbourne,” Hopper said. “That was in Paris last year. It’s part of my art collection, part of my own work and there is a time line running from 1955 up until now with 20 monitors showing various films and commercials I was in, some experimental projects with Warhol and so on that I did over the years. It’s really quite an amazing show. Then I’m having a big table book that’s coming out by Benedikt Taschen. Tony Shafrazi has been working on it for 20 years and Taschen has been working on it for 5. It’s coming out in September. It’s 800 of my photographs from the ‘60s.”

Hopper maintained his enthusiasm for motorcycles in the decades since his landmark film Easy Rider. Last year, he regaled us with the story of a celebrity road trip through Russia.

"It was incredible,” he said last year. “We took a motorcycle trip from St. Petersburg to Moscow for the Guggenheim, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne and myself. It was an incredible thing. It took us five days to get from St. Petersberg to Moscow but it was wonderful. We opened “300 Years of American Art” at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Guggenheim. So it was cool."

The multi-talented actor/director also has plans to direct another feature film, on which he is meeting with executives this summer.

Looking back on Crash, Hopper had a chance to reflect on his first season, recalling his favorite episodes of the work so far. “Well, I like the one with Dean Stockwell because he's an old friend,” Hopper said. “And it was just sort of fun, me going out to see him to get me off drugs, which is a ridiculous premise to begin with. So I enjoyed that show.  He bit me with a scorpion or whatever as a cure.  Yeah, that was my favorite.”

As season two begins, Hopper has high praise for his upcoming work too. “Just to throw this in, the last two scripts, I think, are really wonderful,” Hopper said. “They're really good, and I think that Keith Carradine's character is really written beautifully.”

His cohort Roberts kept mum on upcoming Crash plans. “I can’t tell you,” Roberts said. “It’ll get me in trouble.”

Crash returns September 18 at 10 et/pt on Starz
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 102 - September 2018
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