Thirty people could name thirty different scenes as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s best – and they’d all be right. In twenty five years the actor appeared in fifty movies, numeorus plays, received countless awards. And now he is dead.
The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman was sudden and horrible shock, a hideous reminder of the shittiness of drug addiction. Hoffman was a brilliant, gifted actor who took on flawed supporting characters–the sad needy friend in Boogie Nights; the sly world weary bureaucrat in Charlie Wilson’s War; rumpled manic rock critic Lester Bangs in Almost Famous; the too-aware, classist snob in The Talented Mr. Ripley--and gave them depth power that shone from the screen, never stealing scenes, but enhancing them with this naturalism and force.
In his starring roles, Hoffman brought depth, grace and fluidity. His star turn in the title role of Capote won him an Oscar. He delivered vulnerability and venality in Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, dorky, lumpy charm in Along Came Polly, and a sad prescience in Synecdoche, New York.
Nuanced, subtle, brilliant. Troubled. Hoffman had spoken frankly about his drug addiction and was sober for 23 years before prescription drugs brought him back to heroin. A stint in rehab helped briefly. He moved out of the apartment he shared with his longtime girlfriend and their three children into one nearby, and there died from a overdose. Evidence from the apartment showed he was deeply in the grips of addiction when he died.
Addiction has destroyed the careers and taken the lives of numerous celebrities and of “regular people” too.
They had so much to live for.
is a common refrain whispered and sobbed upon the death of addicts, the horror and shock that demons unseen can overtake someone. Is there an answer, a solution? The 12 Step model can work, but is no guarantee; even the “the program” admits that less 5% stay sober for life. Harm reduction isn’t going to stop the inevitable buildup of drug tolerance in the system which reaches a point where the amount to feel normal is the same amount that will shut off the involuntary muscle response, leading to death. Methadone and Suboxone are soul crushing and equally, if not more, addictive.
The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman has affected millions who appreciated his work, those who worked with him, and of course his friends and family. His talent was immense, as apparently was his internal, eternal pain. Rest in peace.
And now some of clips from his films: