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Philip Seymour Hoffman…damn

This was a tough one, and it’s astonishing how hard some of these happenings hit you regarding people you’ve never met. The world lost 46 year-old Philip Seymour Hoffman yesterday, and my sincere condolences to his family and his three children. I don’t care what he was found with, I’m not going to judge him by what his demons were—he was a human being, and a father, and an absolutely superb actor. How marvelous of a performer was PSH? Let’s put it this way: the most oft-repeated line I’ve heard in the last twelve hours regarding PSH’s passing, was that he won an Academy Award for the 2005 film, “Capote”. Folks, I can give you a dozen films and performances from this man, and his fine impersonation of Truman Capote won’t even enter the equation. Let’s start with 1997’s “Boogie Nights” as Scotty J.—possibly his first great film role. Then there’s the tortured Allen in Todd Solondz’s controversial 1998 ensemble piece, “Happiness”. 1999 brought Freddie Miles in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and the year 2000 ushered in Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous”. 2002 was a bumper crop for Mr. Hoffman, with the astonishing quartet of Dean Trumbell in “Punch-Drunk Love”, Jacob Elinsky in Spike Lee’s “25th Hour”, Freddy Lounds in “Red Dragon” and gas-sniffing Wilson Joel in “Love Liza”. Philip played a different kind of addict, the gambling kind, as Dan Mahowny in 2003’s underseen “Owning Mahowny”. In 2007, he was Andy in Sidney Lumet’s swan song, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”. And 2008 saw the release of one of the finest films of last decade, “Synecdoche, New York”. In 2011 he was baseball manager Art Howe in Bennett Miller’s “Capote” follow-up, “Moneyball”. And I simply must make it a baker’s dozen with 2012’s mesmerizing, Orson Welles-inspired work as cult leader Lancaster Dodd in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master”. In fact, PSH was a favorite of PTA with roles in 5 of the director’s first six features. Hoffman was a fine stage performer too, with acclaimed Broadway roles in “True West”, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “Death of a Salesman”. I remember skipping PSH’s 2012 Willy Loman turn in Arthur Miller’s most renowned work, because I felt that Hoffman was too youthful for the role. Damn, how I now wish I had visited it back then. Hoffman was a tremendous talent and easily one of the best film actors of his generation. So many people are mentioning “Capote” today, that I felt some of you might need a refresher course. Start with the 13 films I just listed, and you’ve got your own little Philip Seymour Hoffman film festival. Philip Seymour Hoffman-a supremely gifted thespian, who has left us far too soon.    

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2 comments on “Philip Seymour Hoffman…damn

  1. I loved “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.” With that said, I am so very sad about Hoffman’s passing; addiction is a 24/7 battle for one’s entire life. My heart goes out to his 3 children and significant other. It’s so tragic. Yes,he was a man, a dad, a mate and so multi-talented. Gone Too Soon! Thanks!

  2. Thanks for that reply, Marlene. People who have been untouched by the evils of addiction in their lives have no idea how tragic and painful the ongoing struggle can be. I’ve lost a father to alcoholism and nearly another family member to gambling. It deranges people and destroys families. Bottom line is these are human beings. Flawed, weak, imperfect people…like all of us. Some eventually find the strength, for others things don’t necessarily end so well. I only knew one aspect of Mr. Hoffman’s life—as an actor. And he was a great one. So, for that, I celebrate him today. ML

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