“Sometimes I’m working on a film and someone will ask me if I’m having fun. And I’m tempted to tell them the truth: No, absolutely not. Having no fun here at all. You know what’s going to be fun? When it’s done, and I’ve done a fuckin’ good job, and I know people are getting something out of that. I’ll have a lot of fun then. A ton of it.”
The news came out so baldly–basic and sudden. Philip Seymour Hoffman had died. At first I was angry; convinced it must be a hoax. Then, as the various media outlets began to confirm that Hoffman had passed away, a great sadness came over me. Now, as the events surrounding his death continue to develop, I wanted to take a moment, as a fan, and redirect the focus. Hoffman, like others, had struggles in his life. But he was not known for his drug habits. If anything, his true addiction was to his craft; and that’s the only addiction that we should remember him for. Those who knew him personally can make their judgments on his offscreen behavior. As fans, we should remember and honor a man who was not only one of the greatest actors of our time but perhaps the greatest underdog American cinema has ever known.
How many times have you been watching a film and had Philip Seymour Hoffman pop up on the screen and make the film a little bit better, even more memorable? As a fan, I would always get excited whenever he would be featured in a film I had no idea he was in. The film took on a new meaning. He was the rare actor who gained acclaim based mostly on supporting roles. The first time I ever saw him act was in his role as the endearing and lovable Dusty, the twister chaser in the film Twister. As his roles progressed from best friend/wingman characters to more intense supporting actor material, Hoffman gave us more to marvel at with every performance. He was the actor’s actor. He struck a perfect balance with every character he portrayed, as well as between himself and the actors and directors he worked with. This balance was achieved through his deep dedication and love for his craft. Despite most of his notoriety coming from nominations for various acting awards he didn’t ultimately receive, he kept pushing, graciously presenting his audience with all of the challenging dynamics of his many characters. This, if nothing else, is proof that he didn’t act for any reason beyond pure, simple love for what he did. And the world loved it, too.
FIVE OF PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN’S BREAKOUT SUPPORTING CHARACTERS
Charlie Wilson’s War
This performance by Hoffman resonates with his passion for theater. His role as Gust Avrakotos was phenomenal and earned him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. With this role, it’s all in the details, and Hoffman was on point.
One of Hoffman’s earlier roles, in which he portrays the polar opposite of Robin Williams’s Patch Adams character. Hoffman depicts the character of Mitch with the seriousness and alarmed desperation of an aspiring doctor who truly wants to know how to save peoples lives.
This is the clip that stands out in many people’s minds when they think of Hoffman. Portraying Lester Bangs, he allies himself with the “uncool” during a phone conversation with William Miller (a fictionalized version of the film’s writer/director, Cameron Crowe). It’s a great moment of pure, undiluted truth from Lester to William.
This movie is pretty good on its own, but this phone conversation between Hoffman’s character and Adam Sandler’s character makes it even more quotable. This scene in particular is why Hoffman is my personal hero in the field of customer service.
One of Hoffman’s best-known supporting actor roles. This scene alone is fueled by angst, frustration, and unabashed talent. Hoffman shows a distinct vulnerability through his character, Scotty, in this scene with Mark Wahlberg. A scene of this quality so early in his career was a very brave move. He did it flawlessly.
The world of acting has suffered a major loss with Hoffman’s passing. He was a visionary, and wonderfully inspiring to watch. We can’t help but feel like he had so much more to show us. It always hurts when a life ends in such a terrible, senseless manner. His death is something that those who didn’t know him personally will never understand. So we, as his fans, should honor him in the way he would want to be honored. Re-live your favorite Hoffman moments, if you can limit yourself to only choosing a few. Feel the grin break out across your face when you watch one of the greatest of our time come on the screen, and let him draw you further into the world of that film. Gone but not forgotten, Philip Seymour Hoffman will continue to entertain us for lifetimes to come with the work he’s done. That is his legacy. And as a fan, I hope he has found some peace.