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Dennis Hopper felt he was in genuine danger filming this movie

Dennis Hopper found getting into character for one of his best movies more uncomfortable than usual when people started threatening his safety before filming.

Dennis Hopper in Speed

Getting right into your role as an actor can have consequences, as Dennis Hopper found out. While making Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper was in some amount of danger, thanks to his attire at the time. But it all helped make one of his best movies come together.

He explained as much to Interview magazine. “When we got to New Orleans it was really dangerous because there were these marines who wanted to take me apart because I had long hair,” he recalls. “You’d hear a lot of stories at that time of guys getting cut with razors and things. It was so bad that we skipped going to Texas.”

Easy Rider didn’t start filming until a short time after that, but thankfully it’d go on to be one of the best thriller movies of Hopper’s career. It’s no wonder he kept his hair short thereafter, though.

Released in 1969, Easy Rider has gone down as one of the definitive films about bikers. Hopper stars, directed, and co-wrote the picture’s screenplay, about a pair of riders who’re trying to take home the spoils of a drug deal. Mightn’t be a surprise to hear they have a rough time.

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Peter Fonda, another co-writer, portrays Hopper’s partner. Easy Rider epitomized a certain era of Americana. The zenith of biking culture, coming into the ’70s and the end of the hippie movement. Likewise, this was one of the best drama movies made independently at the time, feeding into the indie wave that contained new movies from Martin Scorsese, John Carpenter, and a little known filmmaker called Steven Spielberg.

So, Hopper’s endangerment was worth it, then. He probably wasn’t so sure about that at the time, but still! For more cinematic greatness, check out ours lists of the best Westerns and best Clint Eastwood movies. You’ll get a kick out of our guide to the Sons of Anarchy cast too, if you want more from motorcycle enthusiasts.