Gene Hackman is without question one of the greatest living actors. He's been acting in film since the 1960's, playing many different characters in different genres. His most memorable roles to me are his seriously flawed, unconventional leading man roles. His characters often carry an element of unpredictable danger. Hackman hasn't relied on movie star looks, but when he's on screen, it's hard to look away, as he easily takes control of any scene he's in. He's one of few actors whose presence is enough reason to watch a film, as he makes the absolute most of any material he's given. While I often get irritated by predictable characters, Hackman has mastered playing the guy I can't quite figure out, but have to watch. I can't think of any other Hollywood characters quite as singular as Harry Moseby, Harry Caul or Popeye Doyle; roles that in theory shouldn't work, and only do because of Hackman's uncanny ability to inhabit them. Hackman is a master at making the unlikeable characters compelling because they're so human. Of course it was hard to choose ten, and some were selected more based on the character than the film. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments and check out the Criminal Movies facebook page for more on these picks.
10. John Herod, The Quick and the Dead
This is my town! I run everything! If you live to see the dawn, it's because I allow it! I decide who lives and who dies!
9. Joe Moore, Heist
He ain't gonna shoot me? Then he hadn't ought to point a gun at me. It's insincere.
8. Royal Tenenbaum, The Royal Tenenbaums
I've always been considered an asshole for about as long as I can remember. That's just my style. But I'd really feel blue if I didn't think you were going to forgive me.
7. Capt. Frank Ramsey, Crimson Tide
All I ask is that you keep up with me. If you can't, then that strange sensation you'll be feeling in the seat of your pants will be my boot in your ass
6. Dr. Lawrence Myrick, Extreme Measures
What if there was hope? What would it be worth to be able to walk again? To be able to feed yourself? To go back to your old life? To be a doctor? What would you endure?
5. Lex Luthor, Superman
It all fits somehow, his coming here to Metropolis. And at this particular time. There's a kind of cruel justice about it. I mean, to commit the crime of the century, a man naturally wants to face the challenge of the century
4. Little Bill, Unforgiven
I guess you think I'm kicking you, Bob. But it ain't so. What I'm doing is talking, you hear? I'm talking to all those villains down there in Kansas. I'm talking to all those villains in Missouri. And all those villains down there in Cheyenne. And what I'm saying is there ain't no whore's gold. And if there was, how they wouldn't want to come looking for it anyhow.
3. Harry Moseby, Night Moves
Listen Delly, I know it doesn't make much sense when you're sixteen. Don't worry. When you get to be forty, it isn't any better.
2. Popeye Doyle, The French Connection
The son of a bitch is here. I saw him. I'm gonna get him.
1. Harry Caul, The Conversation
I'm not afraid of death, but I am afraid of murder.