Culture & Entertainment

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967–2014

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967–2014

If you were anywhere near Facebook or Twitter yesterday, you already know that one of our best actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman, is gone— dead of a heroin overdose at the age of 46. A father of three, Hoffman reportedly struggled with addiction for much of his life, yet he managed—somehow—to keep it out of the tabloid spotlight, maybe by indulging behind closed doors. In any case, it’s a terrible loss, and not just for his family and friends, but for the moviegoing public. Hoffman belonged to that small group of actors who could make a movie worth seeing simply by being in it. Even when in supporting roles—and most of his career was supporting roles—he loomed large, often larger than the main characters. And he did it not by grandstanding, but by projecting real, palpable intelligence. It’s the rare actor who can make you “see” a character’s thought processes, who can make you believe you are actually witnessing thought take place, not just the simulation of it. Most of his characters were either burdened by the weight of all that thinking (as in his sad-sack characters in A Late Quartet, Synecdoche, New York, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, The Savages, and 25th Hour), inflamed by it ( Charlie Wilson’s War, Almost Famous), or unhinged by it ( The Master, Doubt, Capote). But always it was there, needing to be reckoned with. I find it especially sad that we’ll never get to see any late-life characters from him: characters who’ve worked through some of that psychic turmoil and come out the other end with more wisdom, stature or grace.  That’s where his career seemed to be heading, and it would’ve been highly gratifying to watch. Instead, we’ll have to content ourselves with the characters he’s left behind: forever struggling with themselves, forever unfinished.
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Culture & Entertainment

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967–2014

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