Matt Hooper is an oceanographer fascinated by sharks who was hired by Martin Brody; chief of the APD during the infamous Amity Incident in 1973.
Hooper crewed the vessel Orca under captain Quint as part of a plan to catch and/or kill the predatory shark that had staked a claim off Amity Island.
Hooper is first mentioned after the death of Alex Kintner, during a town meeting on how to deal with the shark that killed him. He arrives not long after not knowing who Brody looks like and vice versa, but they bump into one and other and Brody offhandedly asks him for help in convincing the locals and tourists to not go in a frenzy hunting the shark. They formally introduce themselves to one another right after, with Brody enthusiastically glad he's shown up. Hooper requests to see the remains of Chrissie Watkins, a victim of a "Probable boating accident." After examining what was left of Chrissie, much to his horror, disgust and anger at the coroner for falsely claiming the cause of death; Hooper deduces that the shark that killed Alex also killed Chrissie prior. When the tourists eventually capture a shark they believed to be the culprit, but didn't know what breed it was. Hooper, examining the bite radius of said creature, identified it as a Tiger Shark. After finishing his measurements, he discusses with Brody the unlikelihood of this shark being the culprit and while trying to discuss it with the mayor, bares witness to Mrs. Kintner slapping Brody in the face and blaming him for allegedly being part in covering up Chrissie's death, which in turn caused Alex's death.
Later in the evening, Hooper pays a visit to the Brody household bearing two bottles of wine. Brody, depressed over the accusation, takes the red from him while they discuss among most things, why Hooper was interested in studying sharks. Hooper relates to both Martin and Ellen that his interest started when upon accidentally catching a baby Thresher Shark which destroyed his boat in a panic. He convinces a drunk Martin to come with him and autopsy the tiger Shark to prove whether or not it's the one that killed Chrissie and Alex. After gutting the shark, they discover that it came from southern waters as proven with a Louisiana license plate among most of the stomach contents and most importantly, no remains of Chrissie or Alex. They search the waters and discover the wrecked remains of Ben Gardner's boat. Hooper decides to put a wetsuit on to investigate the boat from underwater. He finds what he later describes to be a shark tooth the size of a shot glass wedged into the boat and Ben Gardner's severed head, the latter of which scares him so badly that he loses the tooth. He discovers from the size and shape of the tooth that the shark is a Great White.
When Brody and Hooper try to inform the mayor, he ignores it both due to lack of evidence and being more preoccupied with someone vandalizing an Amity Island welcome sign with Shark propaganda. Hooper stays in Amity to help Martin guard the waters during the Fourth of July beach party. Hooper among the police find two kids pranking the swimmers with a cardboard fin, while the real Great White attacks Michael Brody's boat. Hooper, along with Brody join Quint on the hunt for the shark, with Hooper wanting to among most things, document and study the shark. Upon meeting Quint, they instantly don't get along with each other, mainly due to Quint's disdain for a rich city man like Hooper. Once they set sail Hooper was in charge of driving while Quint and Brody try to lure the shark with Chum and fishing lines. Something big catches the line and Hooper doesn't initially think it's a shark, but rather just a big game fish. The line breaks which leads Quint to rudely claim it has to be the shark, because no game fish can chew through piano wire.
When the shark finally surfaces alerting Brody who in turn alerts Quint and Hooper, the latter two both to their astonishment discover this Great White is 25 feet long and 3 tons. When Quint prepares to shoot the shark with a barrel-attached harpoon, to keep it from diving down, Hooper takes the opportunity to fix a tracking device on the first barrel. When the shark dives regardless, they wait for him to surface and compare scars while they wait. Quint tells Hooper about his account of the USS Indianapolis much to the astonishment of the other two. The trio break into a song until the shark crashes into the boat. While Hooper and Brody do damage control, Quint tries to kill the shark with his rifle. After fixing the boat engine, the barrel pops up causing Hooper and Quint to try to tie it to the boat. The shark pops up taking them by surprise. When Brody berates Quint for destroying the rope, Hooper alerts them of the shark's presence, prompting Quint to hook another barrel onto it while Hooper drives the boat giving chase. Quint shoots one more barrel while, Brody tries to kill it with his sidearm. The shark once again dives, only for the barrels to resurface seconds later.
Brody and Hooper tie the ropes to the cleats nearly crushing Hooper's legs in the process. The shark ends up dragging the boat with Quint trying to drive back in a game of tug-o-war. The shark, in turn, tries to eat its way through the rope. Quint shoots another harpoon into it's lower jaw while, Hooper tries to untie the cleats. The barrel attached to the harpoon hits Brody breaking his glasses. The shark ends up escaping the cleats after dragging the boat, flooding the cabin with water. With three barrels, Quint hopes to lure the shark into shallow water to drown it, before the engine dies. When it does, Hooper suggests to use the Anti-shark cage he brought, to kill it up-close with a hypodermic harpoon full of Strychnine. Hooper goes under preparing to fight, only to be caught off guard losing the harpoon. After being knocked around in the cage, Hooper escapes and is not seen again until after Brody kills the shark. Since Hooper was underwater at the time, he was unaware of Quint's demise until Brody informs him of it. They use the barrels and what's left of the Orca's wood to make a makeshift raft home.
Hooper was never seen again in the series, but was mentioned in Jaws 2 on an expedition and thus not able to help Brody out with the second shark problem.
- One of two survivors of the catastrophic boating accident during the 'First Amity Incident' wherein the fishing boat ORCA was reported missing due to a shark attack.
- Off screen, Hooper went on to be featured on a 1975 cover of National Geographic, and eventually won the America's cup in 1976.
- Spielberg has said during interviews he considered directing the sequel (JAWS2), however Universal decided not to wait for his schedule to clear. Richard Dreyfuss was then ironically working on Spielberg's Close Encounters of The Third Kind. Had Spielberg directed Jaws 2 it's likely Dreyfuss would have appeared again.
- In the novel, Hooper is killed by the shark when he is in the shark cage, however in the film, he survives.
reference made during a brief phone conversation between him and Chief Brody.
- Matt Hooper's nickname is Matt Pooper in the MAD episode, "Jaws the Great and Powerful/Old Spock's Off Their Spockers".
- Dreyfuss plays a parody of Hooper in the opening of the 2010 remake of Piranha.