Easy Rider caused a feud between Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda that was never resolved

Fonda and Hopper’s main beef comes down to who really deserved script credit for “Easy Rider.” The script for the final film is credited to Fonda, Hopper and writer Terry Southern, a screenwriter who previously penned “Dr. Strangelove” for Stanley Kubrick and “Barbarella” for Roger Vadim. Fonda claimed to have come up with the idea for “Easy Rider” on his own, recalling that “It was just my vision and my voice writing it at the Lake Shore Motel in 1967.” After Hopper and Southern got involved, however, the actual writing of the script didn’t go as usual.

According to South, Hopper and Fonda came to him with just an idea, and the three subsequently “started smoking drugs in earnest and having a non-stop history lecture”. While the trio worked out a basic story structure, there was a ton of improvisation during filming, although Southern clarified that “the improvisation was always within the scope of the scene’s obligations”. After the film was completed, Southern recalled that Fonda called him and “said he and Dennis loved the film so much that they wanted to be in the credits of the script”, credits which Southern should grant under Writers Guild rules. , which he completed. make.

From there, everyone’s stories of what happened with the script’s credit get more complex. Fonda claimed that Southern left the film and that Hopper “just felt he deserved” to have “one script credit”. Hopper eventually became litigious, suing Fonda in 1992 for credit, then filing a lawsuit against Fonda in 1996 over allegedly promised proceeds from the film after the previous lawsuit was settled, proceeds which Fonda claimed Hopper “had misappropriated by investing in fake gold mines.” Clearly, the making of “Easy Rider” was so collaborative and mercurial that such a lawsuit would be hard to resolve for good.

While these ongoing arguments would ruin just about any friendship, the animosity between Fonda and Hopper began during the making of the film itself. Hopper knew that Fonda’s father, famed movie actor Henry Fonda, lied to his son about his mother’s suicide in 1950 and forced Fonda to face this real trauma on camera for a scene in the film. As Fonda explained, “I wanted to cut that out of the movie… But I didn’t fight with Hopper, we went back and forth, and finally he said he wanted me to do it because he was the director.”

Earnest L. Veasey