To say the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman came as a shock is a staggering understatement. Even as I’m writing this, I am in a state of utter disbelief. I didn’t know him personally so I wasn’t aware of how much he was actively battling his addiction. I don’t mean that to be callous, but this was his private life and I really had no business trespassing, even for a peak. There were whispers of him going to rehab months before, but he wasn’t getting caught, hanging out with strippers or wrecking vehicles, so it stayed largely out of the press. When I heard of him going to rehab, I rooted for him obviously. I’ve had an enormous amount of respect for the man that goes back several years. Even going so far as to grant him the title of ‘’favorite actor’’ on many occasions… and I meant it, he was my favorite. Losing him is just devastating.
The first time I remember seeing him was the P.T. Anderson film, Boogie Nights as the sad sack PA with an unrequited crush on Mark Wahlberg’s porn star Dirk Diggler. It was a small part and with any other actor, might have been insignificant, but his portrayal was unflinching and when he made the move on Dirk, and was rebuffed, he made you feel that sting of rejection and your heart broke all over the place. I was hooked. From that moment, I followed his career from the silly slapstick comedies, such as Along Came Polly to the heartfelt portrayal of Phil Parma in Magnolia, as he begged and pleaded to try and reconnect a son with his dying father. From Lester Bangs, to Truman Capote. He played heroes and villains giving himself entirely to each and every role he portrayed, and that is what made him so good. When he was cast in a movie, you knew for sure whether or not the film held its own, Philip Seymour Hoffman was going to dazzle you.
He didn’t have the matinee idol good looks, but he didn’t need them. He wasn’t suave and flashy, I mean let’s face it, he was never on the shortlist to play James Bond, although he could have played the heck out of a Bond villain. But what he did have was so rare. He could immerse himself so completely. He could make you laugh or destroy you with a look. His work was always so sincere and genuine. It seemed effortless to us, but I’m sure it took an enormous amount of discipline and control. He gave everything to his roles. And for that, I am grateful. He leaves behind a legacy of some of the greatest performances we are likely to ever see. He earned our love and respect, and it saddens me to know, it’s all done.
It’s really not important how he died. It’s really only worth noting to shed light on the realities that addiction can happen to anyone. Even someone you least expect. Even the father of three small children, who seemed to have everything going for him. It can happen, and it can tear someone down leaving a large trail of devastation. But, that’s not for us to wonder the hows’ and the whys’ or to pass judgement. What is important, is that Philip Seymour Hoffman will always be remembered as one of the best actors we have or will ever know.
I truly hope he rests in peace.