Dennis Hopper was sued by Rip Torn over ‘knife pulling’ incident

Dennis Hopper was sued by Rip Torn over ‘knife pulling’ incident

June 12, 2022

Waterworld with Kevin Costner official trailer 1995

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Dennis Hopper starred in a collection of incredible films throughout the decades into the 2000s, including Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet and Hoosiers. His films are even being aired to this day, with Waterworld – which he starred in alongside Kevin Costner – hitting Channel 5 at 1:05pm.

But long before this Oscar-nominated movie was released, Hopper had a life-threatening incident involving Rip Torn.

Hopper wrote and produced the 1969 movie Easy Rider alongside his long-time cohort Peter Fonda. The film starred Jack Nicholson as the protagonist, Wyatt, in what would become an extremely successful independent movie. On just a budget of $400,000, the film made more than $60 million at the box office.

But Nicholson was not the first option for the picture. Originally, Hopper approached Torn to star in the movie.

Torn reportedly worked alongside Hopper and Fonda to create the script before he was axed from the upcoming movie.

Then, a fight broke out during dinner at a restaurant. Hopper told the story to Jay Leno on his talk show in 1994.

He recalled: “Yeah, Rip and I had a little problem. Well, at dinner he pulled a knife on me.”

Leno inquired further, not quite realising how serious Hopper was at the time.

He continued: “He thought I was cutting him out of the picture – as he put it – before we were just writing. And he decided the script wasn’t really correct.”

However, Torn didn’t like this story being told on national TV.

In fact, he claimed it wasn’t entirely true and sued Hopper for defamation soon after. (Via Slashfilm)

Torn claimed Hopper was the one who pulled a knife during the altercation.

And, after a lengthy lawsuit, a three-judge panel agreed with the actor. As a result, $475,000 was awarded to Torn. (Via LA Times)

The judging panel added that Torn could have filed for punitive damages against Hopper, as well.

At the time, Hopper only had one defence for his comments.

Hopper said his remark about Torn being “cut” from Easy Rider was an “intended pun gone bad”.

This wasn’t the only fight Torn got into during his time in Hollywood, however. In 1970 – a year after the incident with Hopper – he was reportedly dragged away by the crew on the film set of Maidstone. Torn reportedly “attacked” director Norma Mailer “with a hammer”. Mailer retaliated by biting Torn’s ear and drawing blood.



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