Gene Hackman was a popular face in Hollywood from the late 1960s into the early 2000s. For more than 50 years, Gene Hackman was a staple of American cinema. During those years, the San Bernadino-born actor was honored with four Golden Globes, two BAFTAs, and two Academy Awards while staring in such unforgettable films as The French Connection, Hoosiers, Mississippi Burning, Unforgiven, The Conversation, Get Shorty, The Royal Tenenbaums, and many, many more.
Hackman made a name for himself starring in popular action, thriller, adventure, and drama films that are still considered to be classics today. It seemed like for the longest while, every film that he was a part of turned into gold. During the peak of his career, Hackman was one of the most in-demand actors in show business.
Since shortly after the turn of the century, however, we haven’t seen Hackman in pretty much anything. His last feature film was 2004’s Welcome to Mooseport, but all of these years of retirement haven’t dimmed his cultural presence. Hackman is still the all-American tough guy we all know and love. Let’s see what he’s been up to in recent years and discover what made him decide to retire from film in the first place.
Gene Hackman’s Retirement
Hackman retired from acting in 2004 after appearing in the largely forgettable 2004 rom-com Welcome to Mooseport, in which he acted alongside sitcom star Ray Romano. Speaking of what happened to that guy?
After the film flopped, Hackman decided to cut his losses and call it quits, but he certainly didn’t make a huge deal out of it. At a press conference that he insisted wasn’t to announce his retirement, Hackman did just that. He informed the public that he was no longer going to act anymore. He mentioned that people in his circle had warned him not to say that just in case some wonderful part came his way, but he concluded by saying that he frankly didn’t want to do it any longer.
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And don’t go anywhere just yet. Keep watching to see what the one role is that Hackman says he’d come out of retirement to do.
He’s Now A Novelist
Just because Hackman is no longer a movie star, doesn’t mean he’s not working. These days, he’s actually a pretty decent novelist who has written quite a few critically acclaimed works.
In 1999, Hackman joined forces with an underseas archaeologist named Daniel Lenihan to co-author three works of historical fiction. The first in the series of books was Wake of the Perdido Star which was about an adventure at sea set in the 19th century.
The duo followed that one up with a murder mystery set during the Great Depression titled Justice for None. Their third novel is a Civil War-era prison breakout story titled Escape from Andersonville. In addition to his collaborations with Lenihan, Hackman has also published two solo works. Payback at Morning Peak is a revenge tale set in the American Wild West, and Pursuit is an action-packed police thriller.
He’s Also A Talented Painter
Besides penning novels, Hackman’s other creative passion is painting. And to be fair, he’s pretty good at it. Hackman studied art at the Art Students League of New York when he was young and once mentioned on Inside the Actors Studio that he would paint to make ends meets before he got his big break on screen. Ever since he’s been creating art but rarely shows the public his work. In fact, he’s even called it ‘unshowable’ at times, but recently he has donated some artwork to various charities.
He’s Too Busy Watching Football
When he isn’t writing novels and putting the finishing touches on his latest paintings, Hackman’s got better things to do than act. For one thing, he has to catch the occasional Jacksonville Jaguars game while sitting right there on the sidelines.
Hackman is reportedly a good friend of ex-Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio. They’ve apparently been buddies ever since the former pro linebacker’s days at the University of Southern California. It must be nice having friends in high places. Hackman has been granted sideline access to the NFL team’s games despite the fact that the Sun Devil Stadium security team demanded that he be removed from the field due to safety concerns.
But at the end of the day, nobody tells a legendary actor like Hackman what to do, and the Jaguars were more than happy to have him hang out until the final whistle.
When he’s not watching the Jags play on Sundays, there’s a pretty good chance that Hackman is watching the Florida Gators play on Saturday.
He Was Hit By A Car
While Gene was riding his bike in Islamorada, Florida in January 2012, he was struck by a Toyota Tundra pickup truck. Hackman was not wearing a helmet and thus sustained serious injuries after he was thrown from his bicycle. He had to be airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center to receive immediate medical treatment.
Fortunately, Hackman is one tough cookie and didn’t stay in the hospital for very long. His publicist told the public that he was doing fine shortly after the accident. He described his injuries as consisting mainly of ‘bumps and bruises’ and revealed that he was already on his way home at that time. Even though he survived that incident, getting hit by a car isn’t exactly the best way to come out of retirement.
He Doesn’t Want To Be Cast As Some Kind Of Grandfather
There’s still yet another big reason why we’ll likely never see Hackman come out of retirement for another film role. Hackman is no longer a spring chicken, and at his age, he simply isn’t interested in playing an older character. He told reporters a few years ago that his age, Hollywood would probably want him to play grandfathers and great grandfathers – something he feels like wouldn’t be fun to do.
But not only does he not want to be put into a box at this point in his life, but Hackman really doesn’t seem to miss the film industry that much in the first place. One of the biggest reasons why he retired was that he had grown weary of all of the behind-the-scenes drama that went along with the job. While he may very well miss the process of being on set with other actors, he doesn’t miss everything else that went along with it.
He’s Narrated An Award-Winning WWII Documentary
While Hackman hasn’t starred in any films in recent years, he has contributed his voice to one notable documentary film which debuted in 2016. The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima, a one-hour documentary which set out to correct the misidentification of the soldier featured in Joe Rosenthal’s famous World War II photograph on Mont Suribachi, featured Hackman’s narration. In the film, the audience learned that U.S Marine Corps Private First Class Harold Schultz had long been misidentified as Navy Corpsman John ‘Doc’ Bradley – a fairly reasonable mistake considering that Bradley was, in fact, part of previous – albeit entirely different – flag raising in Iwo Jima.
Hackman’s voice fit the project perfectly, especially since he too dropped out of High School at 17 fueled my patriotism to enlist in the Marines where he ended up serving as a field radio operator for the better part of five years.
In 2017, Hackman lent his voice to another war documentary titled ‘We, The Marines’.
We’ll Likely Never Witness Him Act Again
It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Hackman will ever come out of retirement. He seems quite satisfied with the way that his career turned out. He accomplished pretty much everything there was to accomplish and took home a slew of awards in the process. What more could somebody in his shoes ask for?
Amusingly, Hackman cares so little about acting at the current moment that he doesn’t even know where his awards are. He told GQ that he doesn’t keep any memorabilia around his house. The only movie-related piece of décor that he puts on display is a poster next to his pool table of Errol Flynn from Dawn Patrol. Gene readily admits that he isn’t that sentimental of a person.
But there is one role that could potentially convince Hackman to come out of retirement. He is a huge fan of Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo, but seeing as how Alexandre Dumas’ first introduces that character in his novel as a 19-year-old, it’s pretty doubtful that Hackman will get the chance to land that role even if it is adapted into another motion picture.
Hackman currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife Betsy, whom he’s been married to since 1991. They’ve lived in their southwestern-style mansion for the last 30 years. If you’re really interested in running into Hackman, then you might just find him cruising around Santa Fe on his electric bicycle, a hobby that he’s enjoyed for years.
While some fans might be a bit disappointed that Gene Hackman isn’t acting anymore, we think he actually retired as gracefully as any actor ever has. How often do you hear about a star getting out of the industry before their career saw a major downturn? After doing Welcome to Mooseport, Hackman must have seen the writing on the wall, so to speak, and knew that it was his time to stage his elegant exit from the industry while he still could. And for that, we applaud him for his foresight and for maintaining his dignity.
But what do you think? Do you think that Gene Hackman should have kept acting or do you think that he retired at just the right time? Let us know in the comments section below.
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