Best Known For
Gene Hackman is an Academy Award-winning actor known for his range and versatility in several flims.
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Hackman's career really took off after starring in The French Connection (1971). He played the ultimate tough cop -- Detective Popeye Doyle -- in this big box office hit thriller directed by William Friedkin. For his work on the film, Hackman won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
After the success of The French Connection, Hackman took on a variety of films. He joined such classic stars as Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, and Shelley Winters for the disaster-at-sea saga The Poseidon Adventure (1972). The next year, he teamed up with Al Pacino for the drama Scarecrow (1973). Hackman went on to star in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974), playing a surveillance expert who gets caught up in one of his projects. His portrayal of the measured and precise professional loner Harry Caul is another one of Hackman’s most praised performance.
Hackman returned as Popeye Doyle the following year in The French Connection II (1975). Along with such successes as Bite the Bullet (1975) and Night Moves (1975), Hackman had his share of misses, including the romantic comedy Lucky Lady (1975) co-starring Liza Minnelli and Burt Reynolds.
Known for his dramatic roles, Hackman took a more comedic turn with his portrayal of super villain Lex Luthor in 1978's Superman, which starred Christopher Reeve as the legendary man of steel. He reprised his role in two sequels: Superman II (1980) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1988).
Reuniting with Warren Beatty, Hackman had a small role in Reds (1981), which was based on the true story of a politically radical journalist named John Reed. Beatty starred as Reed and also directed and produced the film. In his next effort, Hackman played a colonel who goes to Vietnam to find his son who went missing in action in Uncommon Valor (1983). He earned praise for his performance while the film itself received lackluster reviews.
Hackman continued to explore different genres and types of characters for the remainder of the decade. With Hoosiers (1986), he played a new coach who leads a small town basketball team to victory. Hackman then played a sinister secretary of defense in No Way Out (1987) with Kevin Costner.
Hackman gave another stellar performance in the civil rights era drama Mississippi Burning (1988). In the historical dramatic thriller based on a true story, he played an F.B.I. agent investigating the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964. Hackman earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination. Not long after this film, he had some health problems and underwent angioplasty after experiencing a near-heart attack. Hackman considered retirement for a while, but he eventually returned to films.
Working with another impressive film talent, Clint Eastwood, Hackman netted an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Unforgiven (1992). He played a cruel sheriff in this western, which Eastwood not only starred in but also directed and produced.
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