Tommy Lee Jones
Date of Birth
30 January 1930, San Bernardino, California, USA
Eugene Allen Hackman
6' 2" (1.88 m)
The son of Eugene Ezra Hackman and Lydia (nee Gray), Gene Hackman grew up in a broken home, which he left at the age of 16 for a hitch with the US Marines. Moving to New York after being discharged, he worked in a number of menial jobs before studying journalism and television production on the G.I. Bill at the University of Illinois. Hackman would be over 30 years old when he finally decided to take his chance at acting by enrolling at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. Legend says that Hackman and friend Dustin Hoffman were voted "least likely to succeed."
Hackman next moved back to New York, where he worked in summer stock and off-Broadway. In 1964 he was cast as the young suitor in the Broadway play "Any Wednesday." This role would lead to him being cast in the small role of Norman in Lilith (1964), starring Warren Beatty. When Beatty was casting for Bonnie and Clyde (1967), he cast Hackman as Buck Barrow, Clyde Barrow's brother. That role earned Hackman a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, an award for which he would again be nominated in I Never Sang for My Father (1970). In 1972 he won the Oscar for his role as Detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection (1971). At 40 years old Hackman was a Hollywood star whose work would rise to new heights with Night Moves (1975) and Bite the Bullet (1975), or fall to new depths with The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and Eureka (1983). Hackman is a versatile actor who can play comedy (the blind man in Young Frankenstein (1974)) or villainy (the evil Lex Luthor in Superman (1978)). He is the doctor who puts his work above people in Extreme Measures (1996) and the captain on the edge of nuclear destruction in Crimson Tide (1995). After initially turning down the role of Little Bill Daggett in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992), Hackman finally accepted it, as its different slant on the western interested him. For his performance he won the Oscar and Golden Globe and decided that he wasn't tired of westerns after all. He has since appeared in Geronimo: An American Legend (1993), Wyatt Earp (1994), and The Quick and the Dead (1995).
Betsy Arakawa (December 1991 - present)
Fay Maltese (1 January 1956 - 1986) (divorced) 3 children
Was the first choice to play Mike Brady on "The Brady Bunch" (1969).
He was the sixth choice to play Popeye Doyle in The French Connection (1971).
He lied about his age to join the Marines at 16, but left as soon as his initial tour was complete.
While at the Pasadena Playhouse, Hackman and a classmate were voted "Least likely to succeed". The classmate was Dustin Hoffman.
Was the first choice to play Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Was also offered the chance to direct The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Turned down the part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Pearl Harbor (2001), which went to Jon Voight.
Jailed as a teen (c. 1946) for stealing candy & soda pop from a candy store.
One of the most sustaining actors of all time, he still averaged two films a year in his 70s, having starred in six in 2001 alone. This all changed however in 2004, when he last acted in Welcome to Mooseport (2004). He has not appeared in anything since.
Has stated that his performance in Scarecrow (1973) is his personal favorite.
Revealed on "Inside the Actors Studio" (1994) that two of the most important factors in deciding on which films he will work on are the script and the money.
2001: Was involved in a road-rage incident when two young men attacked him for hitting their car in Hollywood.
Father of Christopher Hackman. He also has 2 daughters named Leslie Hackman and Elizabeth Hackman.
Brother of Richard Hackman.
Has appeared in three films adapted from novels by John Grisham: The Firm (1993), The Chamber (1996) and Runaway Jury (2003).
Based his role in The Conversation (1974) on one of his uncles and a fellow Marine he had known well. He characterized the Marine as someone "who probably became a serial killer.".
Dustin Hoffman came to New York after finishing his training at the Pasadena Playhouse. The two of them roomed together in New York at Hackman's one-bedroom apartment on 2nd Ave. & 26th St. Hoffman slept on the kitchen floor. Originally, Hackman had offered to let him stay a few nights, but Hoffman would not leave. Hackman had to take him out to look for his own apartment.
As roommates, Dustin Hoffman and Hackman would often go to the apartment rooftop and play the drums. Hoffman played the bongo drums while Hackman played the conga drums. They did it out of their love for Marlon Brando, who they had heard played music in clubs. They wanted to be like Brando and were big fans of his.
Dustin Hoffman asked for the part of Rankin Fitch in Runaway Jury (2003), which had gone to Hackman. Hoffman admits to asking, "Can't you get rid of Gene and give me the part?".
Runaway Jury (2003) was the first time he and former roommate Dustin Hoffman performed on the screen together.
Met actor Dustin Hoffman in the first month at Pasadena Playhouse. Had several classes with him.
Was admitted into the famed Pasadena Playhouse on the G.I. Bill. He failed out of it after 3 months and moved to New York to continue being a stage actor. Received 1 of the lowest grades the school had ever given (1.3 out of 10). He headed to New York with the intention of proving them wrong.
Was the subject of the song "Gene Hackman" by Hoodoo Gurus.
Turned down the lead roles in Jaws (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
7/7/04: Appeared on "Larry King Live" (1985). Larry King was surprised to find out that Hackman had no movies lined up, and Hackman replied by saying that he thinks it is the end of his career.
Says watching his own films makes him terribly nervous.
Reportedly turned down the role of Randall Patrick McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
Reportedly turned down one of the lead roles in Network (1976).
After he played Little Bill in Unforgiven (1992), Hackman vowed not to appear in any more violent films. After he had been in violent films dating back to Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The French Connection (1971) (in a role refused by Peter Boyle for the same reasons), he said he was fed up with them.
Along with Margot Kidder, Hackman was appalled at the way Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind, the producers of the first three Superman films and 1984's Supergirl (1984) film, had treated director Richard Donner, who had directed the first Superman (1978) and most of the second Superman film back-to-back before he was fired by the Salkinds over creative differences. Hackman, who said he only did the first two movies because of Donner's persuasion, was so angry with the Salkinds that he vehemently refused to reprise the role of Lex Luthor in Superman III (1983), while Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane, only appeared in a cameo role. Hackman was later persuaded to reprise the Luthor role in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).
Enjoys painting and writing fiction.
Lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
As a young man, Hackman attended a showing of the movie A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and was impressed by the performance of Marlon Brando due to his naturalism and the fact that he didn't look like what a movie star typically looked like in the 1950s. After exiting the theater, he told his father that he wanted to be an actor.
Even though he is no longer a cigarette smoker, Hackman played the role of a chain-smoker in Heartbreakers (2001). He was using a special kind of cigarette that only produces heavy smoke without requiring any inhaling. Ironically and tragically, in 1962, Hackman's mother Lydia died of injuries incurred from a fire caused by her own smoking.
Turned down the lead role of Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) because he was in a troubled marriage and could not spend 16 weeks outside of Los Angeles on location shooting.
In a 2004 Vanity Fair story on him, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Duvall, Hackman said one of the worst memories of being a struggling actor, was working as a doorman in New York City. He recalled having seen former Marine officers pass him by when opening the door for them, of which one had said "Hackman, you're a sorry son of a bitch."
While a struggling actor in New York City, he worked as a soda jerk in a pharmacy and as a furniture mover. But told Time Magazine in 2011 that "worst job I ever had" was working nights at the legendary Chrysler Building--as part of a crew that polished the leather furniture.
After flunking out of the Pasadena Playhouse and moving to New York City with fellow drop-out Dustin Hoffman, Hackman worked at the Howard Johnson's restaurant in Times Square as a doorman. One day, a Pasadena Playhouse acting teacher whom Hackman hated walked by him, stopped, and told him that he had been right, that Hackman would never amount to anything.
In Robert Osborne's "Academy Awards 1972 Oscar Annual", Hackman is quoted as saying Errol Flynn was his boyhood idol. Says a poster of Flynn is one of the only movie mementos he has in his otherwise very "civilian" Santa Fe home.
1990: Underwent successful angioplasty surgery after nearly suffering a severe heart attack.
Is one of only a few actors to win an Oscar for a supporting role after winning an Oscar for a leading role. (Others to do so are Jack Nicholson, Maggie Smith and Helen Hayes).
In the Superman movies, he didn't like the idea of going bald for his role as Lex Luthor. He was allowed to wear wigs instead, and was convinced to wear a bald cap in only a few scenes.
Has played three fictional Presidents: he plays President Alan Richmand in Absolute Power (1997). His Superman (1978) character, Lex Luthor, became President of the United States in the year 2000, in the DC Comics. He also played President Monroe "Eagle" Cole in Welcome to Mooseport (2004).
Hackman replaced George Segal in the role of Kibby in the notorious flop Lucky Lady (1975). Possibly anticipating that the film would be a turkey, Segal bailed out of the production and Hackman was brought in at the last-minute. The desperate producers paid Hackman - riding high from the huge box office success of The Poseidon Adventure (1972)--a reported $1.2 million for his role, $500,000 more than Segal's going rate. Hackman knew co-star Burt Reynolds from starring in the first episode of Burt's short-lived 1966 TV series "Hawk" (1966).
His performance as Harry Caul in The Conversation (1974) is ranked #37 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Hackman has said that the failure of Scarecrow (1973) turned him off of art films due to the disappointment of working hard on a film that was critically acclaimed, but that tanked at the box office and failed to garner any awards. After this flop, Hackman mainly concentrated on acting for money, turning down such films as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Network (1976) for roles in films like March or Die (1977) and Lucky Lady (1975) that offered him fatter paychecks.
Appeared on Richard Nixon's infamous "List of Enemies" during the 1972 presidential election, the only time Hackman was publicly involved in politics. During an interview on "Larry King Live" (1985) in July 2004, Hackman stated that although he is a Democrat, he liked President Ronald Reagan, who had died the previous year.
Before he decided to become an actor, he worked numerous jobs including announcing at small radio and TV stations.
Studied journalism and TV production at the University of Illinois, where he was voted "Least Likely to Succeed.".
Was a Dallas Cowboys fan but now regularly attends Jacksonville Jaguars games as guest of his friend head coach Jack Del Rio.
In contrast with his on-screen image of tough guy and reactionary, in real life Hackman is said to be an extremely gentle, shy person who holds very progressive political views.
Turned down the role of Sheriff Teasle in First Blood (1982).
Friends with Kris Kristofferson since Cisco Pike (1972).
Turned down the leading role in Sorcerer (1977) that went to Roy Scheider, Hackman's co-star in The French Connection (1971).
Both Hackman and his former roommate, Dustin Hoffman, had their big breaks in 1967, Hackman in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Hoffman in The Graduate (1967).
Distantly related to Jenni Blong.
Released his novel, a violent Western, "Payback at Morning Peak" in June, 2011.
In the late 1970s, he competed in Sports Car Club of America races driving open-wheeled Formula Ford. In 1983, he drove in a 24-hour Daytona endurance race. He has also won the Long Beach Grand Prix Celebrity Race.
I was trained to be an actor, not a star. I was trained to play roles, not to deal with fame and agents and lawyers and the press.
[on aging] It really costs me a lot emotionally to watch myself on-screen. I think of myself, and feel like I'm quite young, and then I look at this old man with the baggy chins and the tired eyes and the receding hairline and all that.
[Dustin Hoffman on him and Hackman as young stage actors and roommates in New York] Psychologically, Gene/myself, we did not think about making it in the terms that people think about. We fully expected to be failures for our entire life. Meaning that we would always be scrambling to get a part. We were actors. We had no pretensions. There was more dignity in being unsuccessful.
[on accepting his Best Actor Oscar] I wish all five of us could be up here, I really do.
If I start to become a "star", I'll lose contact with the normal guys I play best.
I came to New York when I was 25, and I worked at Howard Johnson's in Times Square, where I did the door in this completely silly uniform. Before that, I had been a student at the Pasadena Playhouse, where I had been awarded the least-likely-to-succeed prize, along with my pal Dustin Hoffman, which was a big reason we set off for New York together. Out of nowhere, this teacher I totally despised at the Pasadena Playhouse suddenly walked by HoJo's and came right up into my face and shouted, "See, Hackman, I told you that you would never amount to anything!" I felt one inch tall.
[on seeing Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and becoming determined to be an actor] He made it seem something natural.
I wanted to act, but I'd always been convinced that actors had to be handsome. That came from the days when Errol Flynn was my idol. I'd come out of a theater and be startled when I looked in a mirror because I didn't look like Flynn. I felt like him.
I suppose I wanted to be an actor from the time I was about 10, maybe even younger than that. Recollections of early movies that I had seen and actors that I admired like James Cagney, Errol Flynn, those kind of romantic action guys. When I saw those actors, I felt I could do that. But I was in New York for about eight years before I had a job. I sold ladies shoes, polished leather furniture, drove a truck. I think that if you have it in you and you want it bad enough, you can do it.
The difference between a hero and a coward is one step sideways.
Dysfunctional families have sired a number of pretty good actors.
People in the street still call me Popeye, and The French Connection (1971) was 15 years ago. I wish I could have a new hit and another nickname.
When you're on top, you get a sense of immortality. You feel you can do no wrong, that it will always be good no matter what the role. Well, in truth, that feeling is death. You must be honest with yourself.
I haven't held a press conference to announce retirement, but yes, I'm not going to act any longer. I've been told not to say that over the last few years, in case some real wonderful part comes up, but I really don't want to do it any longer ... I miss the actual acting part of it, as it's what I did for almost fifty years, and I really loved that. But the business for me is very stressful. The compromises that you have to make in films are just part of the beast, and it had gotten to a point where I just didn't feel like I wanted to do it anymore.
[In a 2011 GQ interview, when asked if he would ever come out of retirement and make another film] I don't know. If I could do it in my own house, maybe, without them disturbing anything and just one or two people.
[on making 'The French Connection'] I found out very quickly that I am not a violent person. And these cops are surrounded by violence all the time. There were a couple of days when I wanted to get out of the picture.
(2011, on how he'd like to be remembered) As a decent actor. As someone who tried to portray what was given to them in an honest fashion. I don't know, beyond that. I don't think about that often, to be honest. I'm at an age where I should think about it.
(2011, on where he keeps his Oscars) You know, I'm not sure; I don't have any memorabilia around the house. There isn't any movie stuff except a poster downstairs next to the pool table of Errol Flynn from Dawn Patrol. I'm not a sentimental guy.
(2011, on Hoosiers) I took the film at a time that I was desperate for money. I took it for all the wrong reasons, and it turned out to be one of those films that stick around. I was from that area of the country and knew of that event, strangely enough. We filmed fifty miles from where I was brought up. So it was a bizarre feeling. I never expected the film to have the kind of legs it's had.
I'm disappointed that success hasn't been a Himalayan feeling.
The Quick and the Dead (1995)$1,300,000
Lucky Lady (1975)$1,250,000
The French Connection (1971)$100,000
Where Are They Now
(June 2007) He is the voice on the commercials for the Lowe's home center store chain, and has been for the past couple of years.
(April 2008) Announces his retirement from acting at the age of 78.
(2008) Release of his book, "Escape From Andersonville: A Novel of the Civil War" by Gene with Daniel Lenihan.
(2004) Release of his book, "Justice For None" by Gene with Daniel Lenihan.
(1999) Release of his book, "Wake of the Perdido Star" by Gene with Daniel Lenihan.
Actor Gene Hackman will publish his first solo novel, "Jubal's Bounty," with Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster. The book is a Western set in late 19th century New Mexico, and will come to shelves in the summer of 2011.
Hackman, an Academy Award-winning actor, is the coauthor of three previous novels: "Wake of the Perdido Star" (1999), "Justice for None" (2004) and "Escape from Andersonville" (2008). "Jubal's Bounty" will be his first solo effort.
Hackman lives in New Mexico with his wife; he turned 80 earlier this year. His most recent film was "Welcome to Mooseport" in 2004.
In 2008, Hackman explained what he likes about writing. "I like the loneliness of it, actually. It's similar in some ways to acting, but it's more private and I feel like I have more control over what I'm trying to say and do."
He continued: "I write every day for at least a couple of hours. I exercise a little bit. And then it's time for the old folks to go to bed."