‘Wild Bunch,’ ‘American Graffiti’ Actor Was 84 – The Hollywood Reporter



Bo Hopkins, the wily actor with the wild-eyed gaze who got here to fame portraying thieves and scoundrels in such movies as The Wild BunchAmerican GraffitiMidnight Specific and White Lightning, died Saturday morning. He was 84.

Hopkins died at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys after struggling a coronary heart assault on Could 9, his spouse of 33 years, Sian, advised The Hollywood Reporter.

Together with his hair-trigger supply, Hopkins was a favourite of Sam Peckinpah, who forged him in three options — as Clarence “Loopy” Lee in The Wild Bunch (1969), as a double-crossed financial institution robber in The Getaway (1972) and as a weapons professional in The Killer Elite (1975).

His flip as Joe Younger, the chief of The Pharaohs greaser gang in George Lucas’ American Graffiti (1973), solidified him as a top-notch display screen villain. The spotlight of his position included coaxing Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) to connect a hook and chain to a police automotive in order that when it offers chase, the again axle flies off.

“I am going to automotive reveals as a result of American Graffiti is the nationwide anthem of automotive reveals,” Hopkins mentioned in a 2012 interview with Shock Cinema journal. “Graffiti received folks out draggin’ and going up, and down streets cruisin’. It received folks into vehicles doing that type of stuff once more. If I advised you what number of instances folks have come as much as Sweet [Clark], Paul [Le Mat] and me at these reveals and advised us that we’ve modified their lives, you wouldn’t consider it.”

As his profession advanced, the sandy-haired South Carolina native segued to the fitting facet of the regulation, and government producer Quentin Tarantino tapped him to painting a superb man in Nightfall to Daybreak 2: Texas Blood Cash (1999).

“Tarantino advised me that he liked my work and that he had this half,” he mentioned. “Effectively, I received the script and mentioned, ‘Certain, I’ll do that. That is nice.’ Effectively, they didn’t inform me they had been going to shoot in South Africa.”

In The Wild Bunch, Hopkins’ character, a unstable younger member of the gang, terrorizes a bunch of hostages inside a financial institution earlier than assembly a horrible finish in a hail of bullets. Simply earlier than his demise, he utters one of many movie’s most quotable traces — “Effectively, how’d you wish to kiss my sister’s black cat’s ass?”

“They took me to particular results and had wires runnin’ up my ass, up my legs. I used to be squibbed up 26 instances,” he recalled of his first large film position. “I fuckin’ thought I used to be gonna go to the moon if them issues ever went off. I’d by no means labored with squibs. Sam requested me if I needed a T-shirt. ‘No, sir,’ I mentioned. ‘I wish to really feel it.’ … Effectively, see, I didn’t know. I needed to really feel it, expertise it, identical to we talked about on the Actors Studio. And like a rattling idiot, I didn’t put on a T-shirt.”

In a brief however impactful efficiency in The Getaway (1972), Hopkins’ Frank Jackson will get his non-public elements blown off by his companion Rudy (Al Lettieri) throughout one other financial institution theft. Rudy, in flip, is shot by Doc (Steve McQueen), who takes off with the stolen loot.

Peckinpah gave Hopkins a extra substantial position in The Killer Elite as a weapons professional recruited by James Caan to cease an assassination.

Hopkins added to his felony mystique as a moonshiner alongside Burt Reynolds in White Lightning (1973) and as Tex, a mysterious man who seals Billy Hayes’ (Brad Davis) destiny, in Midnight Specific (1978).

William Mauldin Hopkins was born on Feb. 2, 1938, in Greenville, South Carolina. His father labored at an area mill whereas his mom stayed house with the kids. At age 39, his dad had a coronary heart assault and died on the porch of his house in entrance of his spouse and son.

Hopkins was despatched to reside along with his grandparents when his mother remarried the next 12 months, then realized when he was 12 that he was adopted at 9 months outdated. He ultimately met his start mom and received to know his half-siblings.

Fairly the handful rising up, Hopkins mentioned he used to steal cash from relations to deal with his associates to the flicks. He was headed to reform faculty after a botched theft when he enlisted within the U.S. Military simply earlier than his seventeenth birthday.

“I don’t understand how my mom and grandmother put up with me,” Hopkins remembered. “Later, I went again house and took them to see The Wild Bunch and my second film, [1969’s] The Bridge at Remagen. And that’s when everyone who mentioned I used to be gonna find yourself in jail mentioned they at all times knew Billy was going to make one thing of himself.”

After the service, which included 9 months in Korea, Hopkins returned to Greenville and landed a job in a manufacturing of The Teahouse of the August Moon in an area theater, then obtained a scholarship to Kentucky’s Pioneer Playhouse. “I believe there have been 180 folks making an attempt out for summer season inventory,” he mentioned. “I didn’t even know what summer season inventory was.”

Hopkins’ Pioneer Playhouse expertise led to a possibility to carry out in a play in New York, and he was in an off-Broadway manufacturing of Bus Cease when the producers requested him to vary his title. He took his character’s first title, and Bo Hopkins was born.

After just some months within the metropolis and one other stint again house, Hopkins determined to attempt his luck in Hollywood and obtained a scholarship to an performing faculty on the Desilu-Cahuenga Studios after which a spot as an observer on the L.A. outpost of the Actors Studio.

With Diane Davis as his agent, Hopkins made his onscreen debut in 1966 on an episode of The Phyllis Diller Present. “After the Phyllis Diller factor, I did a Gunsmoke, then The Andy Griffith Present, taking part in Goober’s helper,” he mentioned. “George Lindsey at all times mentioned he was the one who began my profession.”

Different early TV appearances got here on The VirginianThe Wild Wild WestJudd for the Protection and The Rat Patrol.

Hopkins’ time at Desilu additionally led to his breakthrough position. Wild Bunch actor William Holden heard about his efficiency in a stage manufacturing of Picnic and beneficial him to screenwriter Roy N. Sickner, who satisfied Peckinpah to offer Hopkins a shot as Loopy Lee.

Two of Hopkins’ favourite outlaw gigs got here in 1975 when he performed Turner, a high-strung, would-be Mafioso who favored to decorate like a cowboy, within the unbiased neo-noir movie The Nickel Journey and as gangster Fairly Boy Floyd within the ABC telefilm The Kansas Metropolis Bloodbath.

As a go-to man for lawmen, he portrayed sheriffs in A Small City in Texas (1976), Candy Sixteen (1983), Mutant (1984), Trapper County Conflict (1989), The Bounty Hunter (1989), The Ultimate Alliance (1990), Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell (1992), Texas Payback (1995) and A Crack within the Flooring (2001).

Hopkins’ different options included The Moonshine Conflict (1970), Monte Walsh (1970), The Man Who Liked Cat Dancing (1973), Posse (1975), Tentacles (1977), The Fifth Flooring (1978), Huge Dangerous John (1990), Radioland Murders (1994) and U Flip (1997).

He additionally had recurring roles because the adulterous Matthew Blaisdel on ABC’s Dynasty, and as renegade disbarred lawyer John Cooper on NBC’s The Rockford Information in 1978-79 and guest-starred on different reveals like Barnaby JonesCharlie’s AngelsFantasy IslandThe A-CrewScarecrow and Mrs. King and Homicide, She Wrote.

In 2020, Hopkins appeared in his remaining movie, Hillbilly Elegy, directed by Ron Howard, marking a reunion along with his American Graffiti co-star. “That was fairly a thrill for him,” his spouse mentioned.

Survivors additionally embrace his youngsters, Matthew and Jane.


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