He was a legend of the silver screen, with a career that spanned more than 40 years and 100 films. He won two Oscars, four Golden Globes, and countless fans. But Gene Hackman shocked the world when he retired from acting in 2004, after his last film Welcome to Mooseport flopped at the box office.
What made him quit the glamorous life of a movie star? The answer lies in a dark secret that he has never revealed until now: his bitter feud with Wes Anderson, the director of his penultimate film The Royal Tenenbaums.
The Royal Tenenbaums was a quirky comedy about a dysfunctional family of geniuses, led by Hackman’s character Royal Tenenbaum, a selfish and manipulative father who tries to win back his estranged wife and children. The film was a critical and commercial hit, earning Hackman a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical.
But behind the scenes, Hackman was miserable. He hated the script, he hated working for scale (the minimum wage for actors), and he hated Anderson, who was a young and inexperienced director at the time. Hackman reportedly clashed with Anderson on set, refusing to follow his directions and insulting him in front of the crew. He also had conflicts with some of his co-stars, especially Anjelica Huston, who played his ex-wife.
Hackman felt that he was not appreciated by Anderson or the studio, and that he had compromised his artistic integrity. He later said that he regretted doing The Royal Tenenbaums, and that it was one of the worst experiences of his career.
Hackman had already turned down many iconic roles in his career, such as Jaws, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. He said that he was tired of playing “the same kind of guy” over and over again. He wanted to do something different, something meaningful.
But after Welcome to Mooseport, a mediocre comedy that failed to impress critics or audiences, Hackman realized that he had lost his passion for acting. He decided to retire from the industry that had made him famous. He said that he did not miss acting at all, and that he was happy with his decision.
Hackman has since focused on writing novels with his co-writer Daniel Lenihan, such as Wake of the Perdido Star, Justice for None, and Escape from Andersonville. He has also enjoyed a quiet life with his second wife Betsy Arakawa in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Hackman is now 93 years old, and has not appeared in any film or TV show since 2004. He has also declined to do any interviews or attend any public events. He has said that he wants to be left alone.
But his fans still remember him as one of the greatest actors of all time. And they still wonder what could have been if he had not fallen out with Wes Anderson.