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TCA: Dennis Hopper overshares at 'Crash' series panel

July 11, 2008 |  5:45 pm

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In describing to reporters his first scene in the forthcoming Starz series "Crash," Dennis Hopper said a lot of things about his character talking to his genitals that we did not want to hear. He, in fact, went into great detail.

Whether that is an incentive to watch the series, we leave that up to you, gentle reader.

Hopper plays an aging music mogul in the series version of the Oscar-winning film who is "out of control."

"He is crazier than any [character] I've played," Hopper told reporters gathered at the Starz network session of the TV press tour Friday afternoon. "He doesn't have an edit button." That's classic Hopper, but it's true of the series, originally developed by FX, as well. "We have no language barriers, or sexual [ones]. It's just free. It's as free as television will ever be."

To hear the producers tell it, the film and the series adaptation will be similar only in their premise: People from different walks of life cross paths in expected and unexpected ways in Los Angeles. Most feel "isolated" in their search for some version of the American dream. (The words "American dream" were said many times during promotional clips.)

"That isolation was a big part of the movie. [Also] the anger, the unresolved issues they have in their interactions day to day with each other will be in there," said Don Cheadle, who starred in the film and serves as an executive producer on the series.

"I didn't feel the need to go back to that movie, but I knew instinctually what that movie felt like," series writer-executive producer Glen Mazzara said. "You had very real moments [in the film]. One of my favorites is when Sandra Bullock is upset the dishwasher is full -- simple, mundane and yet impactful. Heartbreaking. I wanted to go for that."

Mazzara pointed to the differences in characters first and foremost, among them two brothers in Guatemala, forced to run to America, and a Korean American who struggles to leave his gang past behind while working as an emergency medical technician.

Also true of both the movie and series is its setting in Los Angeles. Producers described it as a "major character" but were asked to explain why, then, the show was being shot in New Mexico. "We're able to squeeze in more production value by shooting in New Mexico," Mazzara said. (The state offers tax relief for productions that shoot there.) He added that outside shots of the real Los Angeles cityscape will be used to weave together the narrative.

Cheadle, who is not a part of the show's cast, says he may even join Hopper on the show at some point. "Glen and I discussed bringing Graham [Cheadle's character in the film] back and how that would work," he said. "He left the movie very unresolved and had a very specific goal in mind to find out who killed his brother. But I've got to feather that into the other things I'm doing."

-- Denise Martin

(Photo courtesy Chris Pizzello / AP)

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