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Hackman doesn’t act — he just is, friend says

SHARE Hackman doesn’t act — he just is, friend says

The voice on the phone was unmistakable, stretching back over the years, from "The Verdict" in 1982, "Shampoo" in 1975, all the way to "From Here to Eternity" in 1953.

"It's funny, but this was the first time I ever got to work with Gene Hackman," said Jack Warden, who plays a relatively small role in "The Replacements," a comedy about the National Football League. "We're friends, but I've never acted with him before. It's an amazing thing, you know. I stand there, and I can't see him acting. Some of these actors, you stand there and you can see them acting, but with him, he's just there. He just is. What better compliment can you pay an actor?"

Hackman plays a football coach hired by the team's owner (Warden) to recruit a squad of has-been players to take the place of striking superstars. Keanu Reeves stars as the team's new quarterback.

"I enjoyed it, I think, because of the subject," Warden said. "I was a fairly good athlete when I was younger, so I was very familiar with the game. I haven't seen the finished movie yet, just some of the rushes. A friend of mine saw some clips, and he said it looked very funny. What else is he going to say? I guess we'll find out."