Gene Hackman is one of Hollywood’s great screen legends. His decades-spanning career has included a huge variety of roles, movies, and awards. He’s won two Oscars, four Golden Globes, and much more. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, he is a working actor to a bona fide star. He receives two Academy Award nominations and one win. The nominations were for his work in 1968’s Bonnie and Clyde, and 1971’s I Never Sang For My Father. 1971 also saw him in the role that comes to define his stellar career. Acting as Popeye Doyle in the classic police movie, The French Connection.
He won his first Oscar for that performance, and from then on, he was revered as one of the finest actors of his generation. He continued acting in memorable roles and movies for the next several decades, only further cementing his status as an icon. However, in 2004, in his 70’s, he decided to hang it up. He hasn’t been in an movie since then, save for a couple of voiceover performances. Instead, he’s been enjoying his retirement and pursuing other creative endeavors. Recently he was spotted in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives, in a somewhat surprising vehicle choice. So join Facts Verse, as we present: At 93 Years Old, This is the Car Gene Hackman Drives!
Gene and His Truck
For residents of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the site of a 93-year-old man popping into a gas station for a fill up and a bite is probably not that uncommon. After all, it’s a popular spot to retire to, and it’s a part of the country where trucks are popular. But they might be surprised when they discover that the person in question is a legendary Hollywood star. Recently, Gene Hackman was spotted in Santa Fe, as he pulled up in a Toyota Tundra.
The actor looked fit, though the years have meant his body looks a lot more frail than perhaps when we last saw him in movies. But he moved around quite well for someone in their mid 90’s, and he certainly seems to be fully with it, and at least somewhat active. Photos of the spotting quickly moved around social media, not because they were controversial in the slightest, but because of the love and adoration that millions of fans have for the long time Hollywood star.
When he stopped acting a couple decades ago, ending his run of decades of work with a comedy alongside Ray Romano, 2004’s “Welcome to Mooseport”, fans all over were left with the sadness of his retirement. Hackman’s gravitas, charisma, and acting prowess always made movies better, so the fact that we haven’t seen him on a screen in nearly 20 years is a bummer. Yet, it was his choice to continue living out of the Hollywood spotlight, and we can respect that. It seems that in life, just as with many of his roles, Gene Hackman does what he wants to do.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of seeing Hackman out and about in Santa Fe, apart from the fact that he hadn’t been photographed in public for a while, was his vehicle of choice. Hackman went for a classic Toyota Tundra. There have been three different generations of the truck, and his was from its third. It was a Double Cab version that he’d done some customizations to.
For the truck enthusiasts among you, here are some specs for Gene’s Tundra. His truck has a 5.7-liter V8 engine, with rear wheel drive. It has a power output of 375 horsepower, and it fitted with the TRD 4×4 Off-Road package. That package includes privacy glass for the rear doors, TRD badging, and an engine skid plate. It also includes 18-inch TRD off-road alloy wheels and Bilstein shock absorbers. He also had a truck cap added on from A.R.E.
Fighting After A Fender Bender
You’d think that anyone unlucky enough to get into a car accident with the legendary tough guy actor would know better than to start any kind of altercation. And that’s especially true given the fact that Hackman is a former Marine. So he definitely knows his way around hand to hand combat. At the same time, you’d also assume that anyone who got in a fender bender with a Hollywood legend would recognize him, get kind of excited, and maybe be super nice.
Gene Hackman In 2001
Well, that wasn’t the case back in 2001, when Gene got into an accident on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. The accident happened when, according to Hackman’s lawyer, a man cut him off in traffic, and Gene was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting him. So Gene rear ended the Volvo station wagon, causing slight damage. The other driver was clearly not happy with the situation, and jumped out of his car to confront Hackman. Then, he either didn’t recognize Hackman, or he did, and didn’t care that he was confronting an acting legend. Because the man started getting into a war of words with Hackman. Then, allegedly he used an anti-gay epithet, prompting the actor to slug him several times in the face. And given that at the time, Gene was 71, it was impressive that he was still willing and able to throw down.
Apparently Hackman got several punches in before the other guy gave him a knee to the groin, which knocked Hackman to the ground. When it was all over, neither driver suffered too much more than bruised egos, and their cars were both in fine shape. So the two ended up just driving away without filing police reports or looking to press charges. Hackman’s reps said that the actor found the whole thing amusing, more than anything. They pointed out that while Gene is generally gentle and kind, his rough around the edges persona and his Marine training mean you still don’t want to mess with him.
Gene Hackman Rolled a Car
Hackman’s passion for driving extended beyond his roles in movies. For example, in 1986, he competed in a six hour long endurance race. The competition happened at Sears Point International Raceway, a spot in Sonoma in northern California. At the time, Hackman was a 55 year old, and was competing in an Audi Quantro he owned. Unfortunately, the car rolls on him, after the brakes locked up part way through the race. It popped over onto its top, effectively ending his participation in the race. Gene wasn’t hurt in the accident, though likely pretty disappointed at having to drop out of the race mid-way through. He even joked with reporters about it afterwards, remarking that at that moment he would have liked to have had a stunt driver.
Gene’s retirement form acting wasn’t anything big and ceremonial. But that shouldn’t be surprising knowing the legendary actor’s demeanor. Instead, after the release of “Welcome to Mooseport” in 2004, where he plays a former president running for mayor of a local town, opposite Ray Romano, he appeared on Larry King’s show for an interview. During the interview, Hackman admitted that he didn’t have any projects lined up. He also speculated that perhaps his acting career was over. A few years later, in 2008, Hackman was interviewed during the release of one of his books. It was then that he finally confirmed he’d officially retired.
Gene Hackman in 2011
In 2011, GQ interviewed him, and asked if there were any scenarios that would prompt him to come out of retirement. Hackman entertained the question, noting that if it was a film that could be shot in his own house, and one that wouldn’t really disturb anything in the house, then he’d maybe do it. It also could only involved one or two people, max. Given that the interview was more than a decade ago, it’s clear that either Hackman was fully kidding, or no one decided to take him up on the offer. It’s a shame, because it would have been fascinating to not only see Hackman act again in his later years, but also to see the inside of his home!
He did briefly come out of retirement, in a way, to add his voice as the narrator for two documentaries. They were both about the Marine Corps, a branch of the military Hackman clearly has high regard for, having served in it. In 2016, he narrated The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima, and in 2017, he narrated We, The Marines. But he hasn’t gone back on his decision not to act since his final movie in 2004.
Hackman’s Life Since Retirement
Much of Gene’s time since his retirement from acting has been spent with his family, though he has also had a successful writing career as well. He got his start by co-authoring three books with Daniel Lenihan, an undersea archaeologist. One was released before his retirement – a sea-based historical adventure novel called, Wake of the Perdido Star. That one came out in 1999. He also released a book the same year as his final movie. That was one called Justice for None, and it revolved around a murder that took place in the Depression era.
Finally, he released Escape from Andersonville in 2008, which told the tale of an Old West prison escape. After those three releases, Hackman decided to try out some writing on his own. He released Payback at Morning Peak in 2011, which was a revenge and love novel set in the Old West. Since then he has only released one more novel, 2013’s Pursuit. In perhaps a nod to the role in The French Connection that made him a household name (and won him his first Oscar) the novel is a police thriller.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Are you surprised that Gene Hackman retired so early? And are you surprised by his choice of vehicle? Let us know in the comments section below!