Celebrated in the Bob Dylan ballad 'Joey,' Crazy Joe Gallo was a charismatic beatnik gangster whose forays into Greenwich Village in the 1960s inspired his bloody revolution against the Mafia.
Everybody who is anyone wanted to meet a real life gangster, and here's Joey Gallo hitting the scene. What more could you want with a gangster? He looked the part. They call it gangster chic. He dressed like the 'Reservoir Dogs' - black suit, white shirt, skinny black tie. You know, he had the whole look down. And the big shades, of course.
I wasn't an expert or even the biggest Dennis Hopper fan in the world. All I knew about him were through his associations with James Dean and Andy Warhol, the fact that he made 'Easy Rider.' I thought his story would have a really great outlaw literary quality to it.
I was walking down a street and after his death and saw a billboard on the side of a brick wall for Van's shoes. It was a picture of Hopper's face, and all it said was, 'Hopper Lives.' So I think he's still part of youth culture. There are lessons to be learned from Hopper about being a young person who wants to live the art life in America.
You know the slow-motion walking shot in 'Reservoir Dogs?' That was in the Tommy Udo tradition. That strut, that way of wearing your suit, is what I think gangster chic is.
I always wanted to do a Hollywood story. The thing about actors, though, is that they go through a streak of roles. The question is, what's in between?
Hopper's best friend, Dean Stockwell, who starred with him in 'Blue Velvet,' let me watch golf with him while parsing out memories of when he and Hopper went off the deep end in Mexico.