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Hopper at ease with icon status

Hopper at ease with icon status
Actor Dennis Hopper arrives at the closing photocall for the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 25, 2008. (UPI Photo/David Silpa) | License Photo

NEW YORK, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. actor Dennis Hopper says he had a great time introducing Rainn Wilson to the stuff of gritty, low-budget film on the recent Independent Spirit Awards show.

In a comedic segment at the beginning of this year's telecast, Hopper -- long regarded as an icon of independence in film -- took host Wilson out on the town and exposed him to some of the tough, violent experiences that sometimes serve as the basis for independent movies.

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"Rainn Wilson is fun. He's so free about taking his clothes off and presenting that great body of his. He is out there. He's really funny. It was great. We went out and shot for the afternoon and just did a fun thing," Hopper told UPI, while promoting his new film "Elegy" in New York Monday.

Asked if he was comfortable with his status as an icon of independent film, Hopper replied: "Well, yeah. 'Easy Rider' was the first time an independent film had been distributed by a major company, so I'm very proud of that. I'm very proud of 'Easy Rider.'"

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Hopper said he regards himself as basically the same person he was when he made that film in 1968.

"I don't think there's any difference, except that, like, I'm not on drugs or hard narcotics and alcohol," the 72-year-old actor said. "I haven't had a drink in 25 years or any hard narcotics. But the person, the thoughts and having the courage of your convictions as a creator, those things haven't really changed. I still feel the same way about acting and directing as I did when I was young."

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