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On Monday, Dennis Hopper’s iconic turn in Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, airs once again, this time on BBC Two, from 11.15pm. The film, originally aired in 1979, follows an army captain who is sent on a mission to Cambodia, where he is tasked to locate and kill a colonel who has gone insane and is worshipped by followers as a god. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the drama has an all-star cast which includes the likes of Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall.
Its influence over Seventies and Eighties culture remains historic, and it has an approval rating of 98 percent on review platform Rotten Tomatoes.
The website notes of Apocalypse Now: “Francis Ford Coppola’s haunting, hallucinatory Vietnam War epic is cinema at its most audacious and visionary.”
Critically, the film also won two Oscars from eight Academy Award nominations.
While the blockbuster was a huge success for Hopper, himself already a celebrated name in cinema, the star wasn’t always happy with the production on set, including during the filming of 1993’s Super Mario Bros.
Starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the legendary computer game characters Mario and Luigi Mario, the film was heavily panned by critics.
During its production, tension wasn’t any better, as Hopper reportedly rowed with writers after four of his lines were cut to make sure the film made the cut.
Parker Bennett, who was a screenwriter on Super Mario Bros, recalled the incident in 2021, when Movie Maker reported how the film had gone millions of dollars over budget.
In a bid to get production back on track, and the release day to be hit, numerous script changes were made, including to Hopper’s lines.
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Bennett said: “We had rewritten some scenes of Dennis Hopper’s to cut out a few words.
“He exploded because he had taken the time and the brain cells to memorize the scene that was there before, and we’d cut like four sentences out of it or something to try to save some time.
“The producers were like, ‘Immediately, come right now [to] the makeup place.’
“So we were where the makeup was going on, and Dennis Hopper — the producers and the director basically shoved us at Dennis Hopper for him to yell at us.
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“They threw us under the bus. And he hollered at us for literally, at least 20 minutes.”
The film would be so bad, that lead actor Hoskin even once recalled how it was the “worst movie he ever made”.
And despite those on set realising how terrible the film was quickly becoming, Hopper maintained he needed his lines.
Bennett continued on The Industry podcast: “He made somebody go get a dictionary, and he made me look up the word ‘act’ and read the definition out loud.
“He was very unhappy. So the four sentences we tried to cut to save money cost the whole day.”
Reflecting on his inclusion in the film, Hoskins told The Guardian in 2007, that the film was a “f****** nightmare”.
He added: “The whole experience was a nightmare.
“It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent.
“After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! F****** nightmare. F****** idiots.”
Apocalypse Now: Final Cut airs from 11.15pm on BBC Two on Monday.
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