Why You Rarely Hear About Gene Hackman Nowadays

Oscar-winning actor Gene Hackman was a popular face in Hollywood from the late '60s into the 1990s. Hackman has a career spanning six decades. He is best known for his roles in 1971's "The French Connection" — the movie that earned him his first Academy Award — as well as the 1988 film about missing civil rights workers, "Mississippi Burning." Hackman is also well-known for the 1986 basketball drama "Hoosiers" and playing the villain Lex Luthor in both 1978 and 1980's "Superman" films. He made a name for himself starring in a lot of popular action, thriller, adventure, and drama films that are still lauded today. 

But by the 2000s, Hackman wasn't starring in as many films as he once was. Since the '60s, Hackman has acted in over a dozen films every decade. However, that trend took a halt. His last film credit was in the 2004 film "Welcome to Mooseport." Hackman had starred in just nine films that decade, and he hasn't been in a movie since. So where is Hackman nowadays?

Gene Hackman's early life

Gene Hackman was born Eugene Allen (or Alden) Hackman on January 30, 1930, in San Bernardino, California. Per The Famous People, he was the one of two boys born to Eugene Ezra Hackman and Anna Lyda Elizabeth. His father worked as a newspaper printing press operator and was a strict disciplinarian (via Independent). Perhaps it was his father's profession that led Hackman toward a job in media later on.

Sadly, Hackman's upbringing was less than stellar. In his early teens, his family relocated a lot and eventually ending up in Danville, Illinois. These constant moves likely didn't offer the stability that would've kept Hackman grounded, and the last move changed his family forever. The elder Hackman would leave the family and never return, per Biography. He and his brother were left with their mother, who was now a single parent. Adding to their trauma, Hackman's mother moved in with his grandmother, who wasn't fond of him. This is probably why, along with other factors, he dropped out of high school. 

According to the book "Reaching Beyond Excellence" by Jim Mathis, Hackman was arrested and jailed for stealing at 16 years old, and he lied about his age to join the Marines. Hackman spent four years in service, and in that time, finished high school and worked as a radio announcer, says Vanity Fair. But an accident forced him to be discharged in 1951. Afterward, he returned home to Illinois and worked as a cameraman for his local news station, per Danville Public Library.

Entering the acting world

Gene Hackman's time as a radio announcer in the armed forces inspired him to seek a career in the field. As a recipient of the G.I. Bill, Hackman attended school to get his veteran benefits, per IMDb. He chose to pursue journalism and television at the University of Illinois. He wound up in New York shortly after and studied at the School of Radio Technique. But Hackman's radio dreams got derailed when he found a new interest: performing arts. 

He found his way to California and enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse — a famed acting school. While there, he met fellow actor Dustin Hoffman. Together the pair became friends, and they weren't exactly the best pupils, either. Apparently, as students, they were voted least likely to succeed (via IMDb). Obviously, their respective careers would prove otherwise in the years after.

For Hackman, it started when he returned to New York. After working his way up, he got lucky and landed a gig on Broadway. Hackman also found himself taking on small roles in several '60s television series, and it paid off. By 1964, he was finally cast in his first major film, "Lilith" (via IMDb). He continued acting in TV series, but his big break was right around the corner. In 1967, he starred alongside Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the film "Bonnie and Clyde." Hackman played Buck Barrow — the brother of the infamous robber. His portrayal helped him earn his first Academy Award nomination in 1968. He was nominated for best actor in a supporting role.

Gene Hackman's decades-long career

Hackman didn't win the Oscar that year, but it brought him the spotlight he needed to make it big in Hollywood. He would go on to star in a variety of films. He picked up role after role, and his biggest role would be in the cop drama, "The French Connection." He was nominated for an Academy Award for the third time in 1972, and finally won best actor for his role as Popeye Doyle. It was a job that Hackman nearly didn't get, as he was apparently the seventh choice, per Independent.

Still, the role solidified his acting credibility, and he became a big star. In the 1970s alone, Hackman starred in 19 films. He was on fire. The '80s proved no different, and some of his biggest and notable roles came out of that decade. Such as Andersen in "Mississippi Burning" and Coach Dale in "Hoosiers." 

The '90s turned a new tide in his career. Per Danville Public Library, Hackman won his second Oscar for best actor in a supporting role in 1992's "Unforgiven" and voiced a character in an animated film — the 1998 DreamWorks movie "Antz." Things continued to slow down for the actor, and one of his last biggest films was 2001's "The Royal Tenenbaums" — a movie for which he won his third Golden Globe.

Leaving the acting world

Gene Hackman acted in his last film in 2004. After filming "Welcome to Mooseport," the actor vanished from the Hollywood big screen and hasn't reappeared since. That year he also released his second novel titled "Justice for None." Many assumed he was probably taking time off to focus on being a novelist, but in 2008, the then 78-year-old announced that he was officially retiring from acting, reported Reuters. He told Reuters that even though he was on a hiatus, it wasn't set in stone because he was hoping a big opportunity might come up. "I haven't held a press conference to announce retirement, but yes, I'm not going to act any longer. I've been told not to say that over the last few years, in case some real wonderful part comes up, but I really don't want to do it any longer," said Hackman.

Hackman mostly emphasized that the business aspect of acting disinterested him, and he no longer had the energy to do it. And per his doctor's orders, Hackman didn't need to excite his heart with any added stress (via Empire Magazine). But what he did have the energy for was writing. To date, Hackman has authored five books (via Thriftbooks). His last book was released in 2013.

Where is Hackman nowadays?

According to Newsweek, a photo of Gene Hackman went viral, and many people wondered what the now 91-year-old has been up to in the last decade. Well even though he quit acting, Hackman has made appearances mostly in documentaries, with his voice. Hackman has also been a guest on some TV shows and specials (via IMDb). While Hackman might seldom be on screen, in the last few years, he can be heard narrating. He's narrated several projects like the 2016 documentary "The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima" and another war doc titled "We, the Marines" in 2017.

Hackman lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife Betsy, whom he's been married to since 1991. The couple has been living in their southwestern style mansion for the last 30 years (per Architectural Digest). If one is looking for Hackman, they might find him pedaling around Santa Fe on his e-bike — a hobby he's had for years, says Men's Journal.