GENE HACKMAN (President Monroe “Eagle” Cole) has received two Academy Awards: Best Actor for “The French Connection” and Best Supporting Actor for “Unforgiven.” He also received Oscar nominations for “Bonnie and Clyde,” “I Never Sang For My Father,” and “Mississippi Burning.” His list of honors also includes two British Academy Awards, three Golden Globes®, two National Organization of Theatre Owners Awards, the Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award, and a comprehensive collection of awards from leading critics’ groups. He has received retrospective tributes from the British Film Institute, the San Francisco Film Festival and the American Film Institute. He received the Cecile B. De Mille Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the 2003 Golden Globes ceremony.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Gene Hackman’s emergence as one of the major actors of his generation is that there is no such thing as “a Gene Hackman role.” Hackman’s recent roles include the scheming patriarch of a dysfunctional family in “The Royal Tenenbaums,” for which he won his third Golden Globe Award, a hard-nosed naval commander whose methods buck the system in “Behind Enemy Lines,” a lifelong con-man pulling off his final con in David Mamet’s “The Heist,” and a ruthless jury consultant in “Runaway Jury.”
Other recent film roles cast him as a sexually tormented businessman in “Under Suspicion,” a man dragged in over his head when drafted as a pro football coach during a strike in “The Replacements,” and a reprobate magnate targeted by two beautiful con-women in “Heartbreakers.”
Hackman’s feature credits also include starring roles in “Enemy of the State” opposite Will Smith; Robert Benton’s “Twilight,” with Paul Newman and Susan Sarandon; “Extreme Measures”; “The Birdcage,” also starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane; and Clint Eastwood’s “Absolute Power,” in which Eastwood also starred. He has starred in three films based on John Grisham novels: Sydney Pollack’s “The Firm,” with Tom Cruise; “The Chamber,” with Chris O’Donnell; and the recent “Runaway Jury,” with co-stars John Cusack and Dustin Hoffman.
Hackman starred in “The Quick and the Dead,” opposite Sharon Stone; “Crimson Tide,” opposite Denzel Washington; “Get Shorty,” with John Travolta and Danny DeVito; and “Under Suspicion,” with Morgan Freeman.
Hackman began his career in the theatre and made his screen debut in the 1964 film “Lilith,” which starred Warren Beatty. Since then, Hackman has appeared in more than 70 films, ranging from comedies to action films to westerns to dramas. These include Francis Ford Coppola’s critically acclaimed “The Conversation,” the box office hit “The Poseidon Adventure,” Warren Beatty’s Academy Award-winning “Reds,” “Scarecrow,” “Hoosiers,” “Another Woman,” “Under Fire,” “All Night Long,” “Twice in a Lifetime,” “Night Moves,” directed by Arthur Penn, and three of the “Superman” films. in which he appeared as Lex Luthor.
Hackman was born in Riverside, California, and grew up in Danville, Illinois, where his father was a newspaper printer. He jointed the Marines at 16 and became a radio operator. After his discharge from the service, Hackman moved from radio to television and worked at various small-town television stations. He eventually returned to the West Coast and enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse where his classmates included Dustin Hoffman. There, Hackman made his stage debut with Zazu Pitts in “The Curious Miss Caraway.”
After a period of summer stock, Hackman moved to New York where he studied with George Morrison and began getting small parts on television and in stage productions. He won the Clarence Derwent Award for his performance in Irwin Shaw’s “Children at Their Games,” and he had his first starring role on Broadway opposite Sandy Dennis in the hit comedy, “Any Wednesday.”
In addition to his work as an actor, Hackman is an author of the novel, Wake of the Perdido Star, which he wrote with Daniel Lenihan. Hackman also paints, flies an airplane and races automobiles. In addition, he is an avid film collector.