Like a lot of people in my generation, I would say that he came onto my radar in 1994's "Speed" as that crazy bomber! haha. But more recently, I watched Apocalypse Now Redux, and was blown away by his performance. The movie alone was amazing, with a fantastic cast, but certainly he stood out. Hopper was a frenetic actor and he used what he did best by playing those kind of roles. I had the pleasure of working with him on 2008's "Elegy" shot here in Vancouver. Although I didn't really get to speak to him in depth, I can say that he was always a gentleman. At that point in time, he wasn't at his best. Well, he was in his 70's, so what do you expect? And yet he was a considerate actor (meaning he was professional and didn't go awandering as some are wont to do), quiet, and laughed a great deal. Seeing him work and have this great chemistry with Sir Ben Kingsley was certainly a highlight of my career as an AD (especially having Sir Ben, Hopper and Peter Saarsgard sitting in a tent on Hastings in front of the Ovaltine just having a blast. wow. great guys).
His career spanned from the 1950's until now, ranging from writing, directing, and acting in both television and film. He has over 200 credits on IMDB (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000454/), and, come on, he played King Koopa in "Super Mario Brothers". :)
The show biz community will mourn the loss of one of it's finest, but luckily, we have an archive of his work that will live on to teach us.
Rest in peace Mr. Hopper.
"Hey, man, you don't talk to the Colonel. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he'll... uh... well, you'll say "hello" to him, right? And he'll just walk right by you. He won't even notice you. And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say, "Do you know that 'if' is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you"... I mean I'm... no, I can't... I'm a little man, I'm a little man, he's... he's a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas..." Hopper in Apocalypse Now.