Apologies once again for the lack of recent posts, I’ve been busying myself with all things academic and… not so academic. But In light of fairly recent tragic news, I thought it would be appropriate to comment on the career of the recently deceased Philip Seymour Hoffman, an actor who I’ve always held great admiration for.
Hoffman died on the 2nd of February at the age of 46, news of which greatly shocked all those involved in the entertainment industry – reactions and tributes from famous friends of his were released by the bucket-load. His funeral attendees were essentially a who’s who of the most respected actors and Directors around. Paul Thomas Anderson apparently gave an incredibly touching eulogy- he had plenty of personal memories of the man from directing him in films such as ‘Magnolia’, ‘Punch Drunk Love’ and ‘The Master’. These films in particular are a perfect showcase of Hoffman’s incredible talent and versatility as an actor; If you are unfamiliar with much of Hoffman’s work, you will not be disappointed by any of these.
Although there’s no doubt that Hoffman could have gone on to much more fantastic work, it’s important to note that he had a long and fruitful career, appearing in over 50 films in a career spanning over two decades. Whether he was playing a hyper-active storm chaser in ‘Twister’, a smug assistant in ‘The Big Lebowski’ or an immoral priest in ‘Cold Mountain’, he was able to perform each role with such gravity and precision that you could tell this was a man who was a master of his craft. He was one of the few actors that had the rare ability to play a character who is so disastrous and despicable yet likeable to some degree. His role as Lancaster Dodd, the charismatic cult leader in Paul Thomas Anderson’s aptly titled ‘The Master’ is already being referred to as a film that Hoffman will be remembered for years from now. This is unsurprising given that Hoffman played this role with ingenious charm but with sinister undertones – this is one of my favourite films of all time and is worth watching purely on the basis of this man’s performance. Here’s a clip that demonstrates this – Hoffman’s words seem to have a resounding importance given his life and the circumstances of his death. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du16oP0DPao
Philip Seymour Hoffman died from what is believed to be an overdose of Heroin and perscription drugs, these drugs were found in his apartment and it is supposed that he died with a needle still in his arm. Hoffman had previously admitted in a 2006 interview that he used to have a drug problem in his days at New York University in the late 80’s, checking into rehab after he graduated. Although he was sober for 23 years, he relapsed in 2012 where he checked himself into rehab once more in spring 2013.Hoffman very rarely spoke about his private life in interviews so the news of his drug induced demise came as a shock to a large amount of people.
Hoffman’s tragic death is a painful reminder to all that everyone can suffer from drug problems, even those of us who appear to be so successful and in control of our own lives. But it’s important to remember this man for all the remarkable work he did in the entertainment industry- Directing and acting on stage as well as working in front of the camera. This is one of the few actors that could turn even a fairly awful film into something enjoyable and memorable just by having a minor role. A good example of this is his appearance in ‘Along Came Polly’, a fairly forgetful Ben Stiller comedy that benefits massively from Hoffman’s brief inclusion. Here’s a clip of the man in action, a man who could make us laugh as well as cry to devastating effect. Rest in peace.