Screen legend Dennis Hopper may have left a colossal legacy behind him when he passed away last May, but now his son, Henry Hopper, 20, is following in his footsteps and breaking onto the big screen.

In 2009, Hopper was cast for the starring role in Gus Van Sant's new Restless, a quirky film about a young man who falls in love with a girl dying of cancer, which just debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. Van Sant says that Hopper initially "resisted" the idea of acting, reports the Los Angeles Times. "I don't think he really wanted to [audition]," he said, until the two met and connected.

Now Hopper has a whole new take on the experience. "I think of Restless as a very special film. It's a tool for what I was going through," he said, relating the experience to his father's struggle with cancer. "It was an incredible tool at that time of my life when I was asking myself those questions …. There were interesting parallels. I feel passionately about the film, it does justice that experience [of death]."

Van Sant's film, which also stars Mia Wasikowska and was co-produced by Ron Howard's daughter Bryce Dallas Howard, is already being compared to the classic Harold and Maude. According to Van Sant, who also directed Good Will Hunting and Milk, a lot of that praise has to do with Hopper's natural talent. "He resembles his father," he said. "There were a lot of things that reminded me of Dennis, especially his early career."

But will Hopper continue to pursue his own Hollywood career? "I'm realizing it's a means of self-expression," he said at a Cannes news conference. "You would see people go through — you know, struggle — with it. It's an intense thing to go about and do. But if you can dedicate yourself to something, you should."