I watched The Conversation last night. It struck me that like Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman is also a victim of extremely real acting. Despite his reasonably charismatic screen presence he could could never convey the star power. Very often he was damned by the label 'Character actor'. He is one actor who almost never used props of extreme makeover, some screen disability or outlandish accent. He used a very limited set of 'normal props' like his body and voice. This extreme realism has prevented him from getting his due. He is too real and the required dose of artificiality is not there to give him the star pull. As I have said elsewhere , "artifice of art is critical to retain the interest. This is understood by the ‘star actors’ like Douglas, Al Pacino or Robert De Nero. All of them are actors of considerable talent at the same time they are ‘presences’ also which can’t but be felt keenly. This is the core of their appeal." Duvall, Hackman type of realism is often in danger of being taken as documentary realism.
I, personally like both of them. Hackman is a mighty fine actor and for me a big star. His decision to leave acting is a great loss to the profession. He has a glittering list of films to his credit. Right from Bonny and Clyde, gritty spy of French Connection, Lex Luthar of Superman, inverted eavesdropper of The Conversation, brutal Sheriff of Unforgiven and master thief of Heist. He has played Presidents and their guard. What ever one might say, for his army of admirers, his "inner fire and air of regret ...... his rascally charm, comic intelligence, and wicked streak" is very much evident lending him the charm and charisma of a superstar.
A very good summation of his appeal can be found at Daily Beast/Newsweek in an article