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Philip Seymour Hoffman R.I.P

February 3, 2014

I was on Twitter when I saw the news breaking on my timeline. I was hoping it was a hoax, like the ‘deaths’ of Jeff Goldblum and Morgan Freeman in recent years. But as the tributes started pouring in, I had to accept, with sadness, that it was all too real. Another drug related death of an actor/musician/whatever. Except that this person wasn’t a ‘whatever’. This person was Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was 46.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe.

This seems to be a particularly cruel way to go because he’d managed to swerve the drugs for over 20 years. Only he knows why he took the decision go back there. My sadness however, is mixed with the joy of knowing he made so many great films. I haven’t seen all of them, but I realised I had watched more than I thought: Boogie Nights; The Big Lebowski; Magnolia; Capote and Red Dragon. For those of you who haven’t yet seen Red Dragon, I won’t give anything away, but I’ll just say that his appearance, given where he eventually finds himself, is mercifully brief.

I’ve added a few clips of his performances on the films I mentioned earlier, but not Red Dragon for the reasons above.

The Big Lebowski. If you want to see what it is to be obsequious, ingratiating, sycophantic, fawning, unctuous, oily, oleaginous, grovelling, cringing, subservient, submissive, slavish, brown-nosing and bootlicking, watch Hoffman in this role as the butler/assistant to Mr Lebowski.

In Boogie Nights, Hoffman plays Scotty J, an awkward character by all accounts. These clips show him first developing a crush, then finding out in the most excruciating way, that the object of his affection definitely does not feel the same. Watch his facial expressions in the first clip and his collapse in the second. We’ve all been there. That he was able to express it so beautifully, displayed a great talent.

Magnolia is a great ensemble piece that made me see Tom Cruise as more than just an annoyance with a pretty face. I haven’t seen this film for a while, so I had to remind myself through YouTube why I liked Hoffman’s performance so much.

There were two films about Truman Capote released in the same year. One was called Infamous starring Toby Jones. I’m sure it was good, but I’m afraid it was steamrollered by the juggernaut called Capote featuring Hoffman.

Almost Famous is a film I haven’t seen, but the clip I’ve included here was posted on Twitter last night – a lot. I think I’ll be adding it to the Philip Seymour Hoffman ‘must see’ list.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: a life cut short, but a great talent, which will remain for us to watch for many years to come. R.I.P, Mr Hoffman, and thank you.

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14 comments

  1. I was also shocked, as I tend to be when somebody who seems so “together” and productive dies suddenly. I wouldn’t have been as surprised about news of a cardiac arrest, he was always overweight, but there weren’t stories about bad behavior so I didn’t know about his having been a recovering addict. Opiate addicts are in terrible danger if they relapse.

    I thought he was one of those rare actors more willing than most to take on unsympathetic characters and create sympathy for them. In that respect he was like Charles Laughton; fully capable of playing leads (hero or villain) or supporting characters. He had played Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman) both as a senior in high school, and in New York at age 44. My favorite roles besides the ones you listed were in “Synecdoche, New York”, and as the L. Ron Hubbard-based maniac in “The Master”. What a loss for his children, and for us.

    Thank you for the well-selected clip show, Pie.


    • There are actors whose private lives are tabloid fodder and actors who manage to stay under the radar. Philip Seymour Hoffman was in the latter camp, which is why like you, I was truly shocked on hearing of his death and the manner of it. When I hear of celebrities, for want of a better word, found dead in their homes now, the first thing I think of is drug overdose. How sad is that?

      He was a remarkable talent and I for one will be watching him more closely when I see any of his films in the future. It’s interesting that you’ve likened him to Charles Laughton. I’d never watched any of his films, but I do know of him and I believe he was lauded as one of the greats of his time. Didn’t he direct a film once that was panned on release, but well respected in hindsight?

      Synedoche. New York and The Master? OK. I’ll add them to the list.


  2. I forgot that he was in Almost Famous and Boogie Nights. It’s been ages since I’ve seen either so I’ll have to go back and watch those. I also enjoyed him in The Talented Mr Ripley.


    • He was in The Talented Mr Ripley? OK. I’d better add that to my list as well. A friend posted a clip on Twitter from some Buzzfeed-like website showing the life of PSH in numbers. Apparently, he made 55 films. That’s more films made than the length of his life, as it turned out.


  3. He was brilliant in Capote. I wasn’t familiar with Boogie Nights but I’m adding it to my list. Ditto The Big Lebowski.

    Thanks, Pie, for putting the clips together. When the Magnolia clip was over another clip came up from “Doubt” with Meryl Streep, where he plays a priest being accused by a nun (Meryl) of molesting a student. That one looks good, too.


    • I really enjoyed putting these clips together, so you’re most welcome. Looks like ‘Doubt’ will be another one added to the list.


  4. One of, if not the, favourite actor of mine. Echo the comments above, he will be greatly missed.


  5. Pie, I can heartily recommend The Talented Mr Ripley, as recommended by your correspondent above. Also featuring Jude law, gwyneth Paltrow & Matt Damon, all playing the roles they were born for!!


    • I know about the film, but I didn’t have a desire to see it at the time, even with the stellar cast. I’ve added it to my Philip Seymour Hoffman must see movie list now. If I ever manage to watch that film, I’ll let you know what I think of it.


  6. Great montage of clips, thank you!


  7. The guy really got around, didn’t he? Another great one, lost to us all. So sad… 😐



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