Friday, February 07, 2014

Phillip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

(EW photo)
Not handsome and rarely playing a good guy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman was not the classic Hollywood leading man. His characters were complex, often haunted, and never boring.

On February 2nd his body was found with a needle stuck in its arm, apparently just another sad ending to a celebrity life. The circumstances of his death and a resumé lacking in heroic roles did not earn Phillip Seymour Hoffman the usual outpouring of mourning that the public reserves for other celebrities. His fellow entertainers, however, recognized his greatness:
Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Ethan Hawke, Amy Adams, and Ellen Burstyn have paid their respects to Philip Seymour Hoffman, an actor widely considered among the best of his generation. Hoffman’s private funeral was held Friday in Manhattan. It ended with pallbearers bringing the coffin out of the church and putting it back in the hearse.

The list of mourners also included Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Joaquin Phoenix, Louis C.K., Mary Louise Parker, John Slattery, Jerry Stiller, Marisa Tomei, Spike Lee, and Diane Sawyer and her director husband, Mike Nichols.
EW critic Owen Gleiberman:
The catharsis of Hoffman’s performance is that he held up the mirror to something that actors, even great ones, almost never have the daring to reveal: the scrappy, private pain of a completely ordinary person. And that was the beauty of it, the way that Hoffman exposed that pain. [snip]

It may seem obvious to say that his crowning achievement was Capote (2005), for which he won a richly deserved Academy Award, but to me it truly was.....Hoffman was playing an immensely powerful man in dweeb’s clothing, and so he was able to assemble the twin dynamics of his acting — the impulse to hide, and the impulse to reveal — into a single extraordinary portrait of the artist as master manipulator.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman---at 46 he wasn't young, but we still wonder about what might have been. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

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