R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman
He looked like your neighbour, or perhaps the mailman. And yet, behind that rounded face, hefty frame, and swath of blonde strands was a force of nature. Philip Seymour Hoffman was a talent who sparred onscreen with modern giants (Streep, Hanks, Cruise). His ambitions and heart marched, thankfully so, to that opposite of Hollywood’s. He was awarded an Oscar in 2006.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, at age 46, died on Sunday. The details are grim – a needle, heroin, solitude. These lurid images conjure the morality of a flophouse junkie, not a world-class thespian. Was this ultimately lethal dependency integral to his staggering acting acumen? One may never know.
What lives on is the image and the voice. His talent is most evident in collaborations with writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson. From his turn as a repressed homosexual in 1997’s porn epic Boogie Nights to the smarmy salesman villainy, opposite Adam Sandler, in 2003’s Punch Drunk Love – Hoffman embodied the everyman, be it, one who had fallen through the cracks of normality.
In 2012, he gave one of his final great performances in The Master. Again teaming with Anderson, Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd, the charismatic pied piper of a burgeoning cult. While it’s a sticky role with potency, intrigue, and a certain ambiguity – it will certainly be discussed for decades.
Evidentially, in the ensuing months, much scuttle will focus on his unfinished work on The Hunger Games. Such an actor of his calibre, able to balance independent features with blockbusters, the dream and pinnacle of any actor, where craft is of utmost importance and salary is simply negligible.
Alas, we’ll never know the treasures he had in store. To us, we’ll just have to be content with the riches he left behind.