Mad Dog Hopper meets Mad Dog Ross.
The American actor, Dennis Hopper, most famous for his helium inhaling Frank “Don’t you fucking look at me” Booth in the 1986 psychological thriller Blue Velvet, ripped an Andy Warhol painting from the wall of his house and replaced it with a tow-board, says Ross Clarke-Jones.
Ross, whose nickname Mad Dog references Hopper’s lead role in the Australian new wave classic Mad Dog Morgan, enjoyed a day date with Hopper following the actor’s work on Clarke-Jones’ bio-movie The Sixth Element from 2006.
It was Kelly Slater, says Ross, who organised the superstar actor, director and photographer to do the movie’s voiceover with Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist Flea ready to step in if Hopper said no.
“I wanted a Hollywood star to narrate and I said, how are we going to do that, and, I thought, Kelly knows a few people,” says Ross.
The movie’s original voiceover was made by Australian actor Peter Phelps, a thespian of some note in the island nation’s well-regarded acting community, although his work was quickly erased when word came that Hopper was in.
“Me and Peter were in the casino together and Kelly rang me and he said, ‘Would you like Flea from the Chilli Peppers or Dennis Hopper?’
Ross looked at Phelps and said, “I know you’ve done a good job but Hopper or Flea?”
On the phone, Ross asked if he might consider the matter before making a decision.
“Mate,” Kelly said, “I’ve got Dennis Hopper and Flea on the line.”
“Dennis Hopper!” said Ross.
Hopper didn’t charge a dime for his work and took Ross on a day-date even allowing the notoriously wild driver to take the reins of his vintage Jaguar.
“I was doing 150 miles an hour on the 405, Hopper’s doing great, talking about his sixth wife, so calm, he felt like my father. I felt like I’d known him all my life.”
Ross presented Hopper with an old Jaws tow board as a gift, which Hopper then mounted on the wall of his house, removing a Warhol painting to make room for the Maurice Cole hand-shape.
“It was amazing having someone talking about you like that,” says Ross.
That story, and a myriad other tales, tall and true, below.