While we weren't looking, one of the great careers in movie history has gone poof. But at least Gene Hackman has called it a day on his own terms, more or less.
Hackman, a two-time Oscar winner and one of the stalwarts of the New Hollywood days of the '60s and '70s, hasn't acted in four years and, by his own words, has found that he doesn't miss movies that much. Or, rather, that the movies seem not to miss him. "At my age, they would have me playing grandfathers and great grandfathers," the 78-year-old is quoted as saying. "That's not a heck of a lot of fun. I'd rather go back to the theatre, actually. But that's not going to happen."
Instead of acting, Hackman has spent the past several years, of all things, writing historical fiction novels with his friend and neighbor Daniel Lenihan. "I write every day for at least a couple of hours. I exercise a little bit. And then it's time for the old folks to go to bed." But while Hackman seems content with his retirement, that can't be said for the fans who were entertained and enthralled by his brisk and edgy performances. Bonnie and Clyde, The French Connection, Scarecrow, The Conversation, Night Moves, Hoosiers, Unforgiven, The Royal Tennenbaums - even relative fluff such as The Poseidon Adventure, Superman, The Firm, Young Frankenstein - in all of them Hackman always gave his best and left it all on the screen. So forgive me for being selfish, for not wanting his last-ever movie to be Welcome to Mooseport. But if Hackman is serious about saying goodby to film, then I hope the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences steps up to the plate and bestows upon him Oscar Number Three - for lifetime achievement - so his audience and his peers can bid him a proper farewell.