Gene Hackman, who made one of his final on-screen appearances in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins And Dives, is stepping out of the Fieri Flavorverse to weigh in on his classic film The French Connection. In a rare interview with The New York Post, his first in a decade, Hackman said Steve McQueen’s Bullitt had a better car chase than William Friedkin’s 1971 Best Picture winner.
“As for the car chase, there was a better one filmed a few years earlier with Steve McQueen,” Hackman told the Post by email.
The 91-year-old actor, who won his first Academy Award for his portrayal of Popeye Doyle in the film, also says that he’s only seen French Connection once. “[I] haven’t seen the film since the first screening in a dark, tiny viewing room in a post-production company’s facility 50 years ago,” he said. “If the film has a legacy, I am not sure what that would be. At the time, it seemed to me to be a reverent story of a cop who was simply able to solve and put a stop to a major crime family’s attempt to infiltrate the New York drug scene.” Hackman did not mention how many times he’s seen French Connection II, but we must assume it’s in the thousands.
Despite only seeing the film once, Hackman does reflect fondly—we think—on French Connection, which inspired the Popeyes chicken-based fast food restaurant (seriously). “Filmmaking has always been risky — both physically and emotionally — but I do choose to consider that film a moment in a checkered career of hits and misses,” he said.
Hackman’s last feature film was the 2004 Ray Ramano comedy Welcome To Mooseport, but as mentioned earlier, he appeared more recently in an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. In this equally revealing interview, Hackman tells Fieri that he doesn’t get the scrapple at Harry’s Roadhouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but knows what it is.
[via New York Post]