“I’m afraid I’ll be the kind of actor who thought he would make a difference and didn’t.” That vulnerable confession was made by Philip Seymour Hoffman, whom we lost on Sunday. When I say, “we,” I am casting a very wide net. Anyone who still goes to the movies intent on being transported by artistry in performance, you’re in that group. Anyone who believes that for all the thrilling trappings afforded by special effects, capes, and cowls, films still thrive on characters…you are in that group.
It’s impossible to even calculate the height of screen performance in this generation until you’ve watched Philip Seymour Hoffman’s films. I’m embarrassed to say the impact of Hoffman’s roles on my own growth as a cinephile escaped my notice until after he was gone. The first time I remember being aware of cinematography and the complexity of an actor’s craft, it was while watching The Talented Mr. Ripley in high school. The Big Lebowski was my introduction to The Coen Brothers. Not even two years ago, I got to see my very first 70mm film: The Master. Hell, I’m laboring over a screenplay at the moment featuring a character lovingly based on Dusty from Twister.
I never met the man, but his tireless dedication his craft made for extremely engaging performances that fostered personal experiences in his audiences. For our money, that more than constitutes making a difference, Mr. Hoffman. Our hearts are heavy, but we take solace in the fact that our passion is cinema, and therefore those we most admire live forever within their movies. In honor of PSH, The INTERN-Net offers their favorite Hoffman films.
This is sad news indeed. I was extremely saddened to hear the news about the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. You’d be hard pressed to find a performance by the man that I didn’t enjoy in some way or another. I even thought he was great in Along Came Polly. Hoffman had a pretty remarkable career. Some of my favorite performances were his roles in Boogie Nights, The Master, Doubt and Capote. However, the one that sticks out the most to me, which likely won’t be his lasting legacy, was his part in the cinematic classic, Twister. To say Twister is a dumb movie is a gross understatement, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t love the hell out of that movie when I was younger and still do to this day. It was my introduction to this versatile performer. I saw Twister four times in the theaters and Hoffman’s role in that film still makes me laugh
Hoffman’s career will be memorable for me not just because he had a number of high profile roles, but also because he was versatile. Hoffman could navigate both comedy and drama, something I admire in my favorite actors. RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman, you will be missed.
One of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s greatest strengths as an actor was his inherent ability to be relatable. There are plenty of actors one could call “relatable,” but Hoffman managed to encompass that idea in even the most murky of waters. The best example of this for me would probably be his role in Spike Lee’s underrated 25th Hour. In the film, Hoffman is a introverted inner city high school teacher who has a silent crush on one of his more promiscuous students (Anna Paquin). Obviously, that’s a really hard role to play without seeming like a degenerate creep. Yet, Hoffman somehow pulled it off. You see him experiencing the pain of having to send off one of his dearest friends (Edward Norton) before he goes to prison, his own social anxieties that closed him off from the rest of the world, and his own inner conflict with his emotions towards Paquin’s character throughout the film. It doesn’t excuse Hoffman’s character’s behavior, but it adds a lot of dimension that makes immediately judging his actions harder to do. Hoffman’s vulnerability managed to make him very human, even in his more morally-ambiguous roles like 25th Hour. It’s a shame that we won’t be seeing more of that.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman will always be that actor who can make anything he says feel intimidating. He has a way of delivering lines with such cold confidence that you don’t know if he likes you or if he is planning to kill you in your sleep (Mission Impossible III comes to mind). On the other side of that, he also has a way of sounding completely genuine and earnest…even if the words he speaks might be a little insane.
His portrayal of Lancaster Dodd from The Master, was a performance that stuck with me even though I felt the movie itself was just alright. When he explaining his beliefs, I completely bought his conviction, even though he was basically making it up as he went along. He had a certain hypnotic charisma to him, making it easy to see why people would follow him in to this delusion. This of course is only one of many brilliant performances, but it was the most recent on my mind. The man was a force to be reckoned with, and it is sad to see him go. May he rest in peace.
Although I had seen Philip Seymour Hoffman in several films before 2007, the first time I really noticed him was in his role as CIA agent Gust Avrakotos in Charlie Wilson’s War. Hoffman’s job was to portray a brash, insightful, and unorthodox professional who calculated the risks of every option before endorsing one. As a result of Hoffman’s refined talent, we learned a great deal about a man who was largely responsible for curbing the Soviet advance through Central Asia. Hoffman had a way of embodying his roles so deeply that it was difficult to tell who was the actor and who was the character. For example, in Charlie Wilson’s War, there were moments wherein I was convinced that Philip Seymour Hoffman was the indeed the man who developed the plan to arm the rebels of Afghanistan so they could repel the Soviet invaders. I had to remind myself a few times that he was only playing the role of a brilliant CIA agent and that he wasn’t actually employed by the agency.
Not only was he excellent, he drew out similar excellence in others. In much the same way that the real Charlie Wilson turned into a better person after his time with Avrakotos, I think Tom Hanks’ performance in the titular role was enhanced by playing off of Hoffman’s character. It is so sad that a person who could have such a positive impact on his fellow actors is no longer around to do so. Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of the greatest contemporary actors and the quality of our movies will suffer as a result of his passing.
How do you even begin to comment on a man who has been in so many outstanding movies as Philip Seymour Hoffman? While he was in a number of great projects, it always comes back to The Big Lebowski for me. Every second Hoffman is on screen is funny. The little stuffed shirt character of Brandt trying to reply to The Dude’s questions using the same lingo as Dude makes me laugh my ass off every time. He milked every frame of screentime for all it was worth, and I love him for it. Here’s to you Philip Seymour Hoffman, you brought joy into my life, and for that I salute you!