Gene Hackman scolded Welcome to Mooseport director

Welcome to Mooseport would end up being the final film from Gene Hackman, who announced his retirement not long after.

gene hackman

When we think of the greatest actors who opted to retire, there are really so few that ended on a high note. Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread is the first one that comes to mind, but who else would even be close? Unfortunately, it isn’t Gene Hackman, who left Hollywood after a 40+ year on the screen following 2004’s Welcome to Mooseport…which is just about the most embarrassing way to cap off such a legendary career. Then again, maybe it’s just the sort of movie that would make you want to retire.

By the time filming began on what would be his last movie, Gene Hackman was in his mid-70s and had seen enough in the business to know who was competent and, well, who would be directing Welcome to Mooseport. As co-star Maura Tierney remembered, Hackman and Donald Petrie (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, My Favorite Martian) did not get along at all when making the movie. “He didn’t like the director. But I don’t think he likes directors. I think that’s his schtick. I mean, he did, I believe, tell the director at some point to, uh… ‘Will you just shut the f*ck up and go over there and say ‘action’ or whatever it is you do?’ Now that’s funny.” Not only funny, but just the sort of story that makes us love Gene Hackman even more.

Tierney would also joke that Welcome to Mooseport was “the film that forced Gene Hackman into retirement.” And while it’s easy to crack, Hackman’s retirement actually stemmed from health issues, with the actor once saying, “The straw that broke the camel’s back was actually a stress test that I took in New York. The doctor advised me that my heart wasn’t in the kind of shape that I should be putting it under any stress.” And who needs the stress of filming a movie in Ontario with Ray Romano?

Now 94, Gene Hackman turned to writing historical fiction after leaving the business. But what he left behind on the silver screen is almost unmatched as far as actors of that generation go. After breaking out in 1967’s Bonnie & Clyde (receiving his first Oscar nomination in the process), he truly became a household name with 1971’s The French Connection, winning his first Oscar (his second would be for 1992’s Unforgiven). And then there’s The Poseidon Adventure, Scarecrow, Night Moves, Superman, Hoosiers, Mississippi Burning, The Royal Tenenbaums, and so, so many more.

What is your favorite Gene Hackman performance? Drop your pick in the comments section below.