Right when I was gearing up for my annual dedication to everything Oscars, I discover the tragic news of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Oddly, it was just six years ago when the same thing happened to Heath Ledger, forcing me into talking about an actor many people probably didn’t know that well. So, you can imagine the déjà vu I felt on Sunday when finding out that nearly the same fate Ledger fell to was also Hoffman’s. What a shame for a guy many probably knew, but didn’t really “know.” And that’s partly due to Hoffman internalizing so much and partly due to the type of projects he chose. This guy loved his art and touched so many both on and off the big screen. So, before I dive into anything and everything Oscars over the next three plus weeks, let’s pause and lift up the career of one Phillip Seymour Hoffman who I guarantee will be the last face shown during the gripping “In Memoriam” segment on Oscar night.
Did you know…Philip Seymour Hoffman was a part of Broadway since 1995? Most of us can only picture him on the big screen, but he has dabbled quite a bit on stage. It all started back in Fairport High School when an injury while wrestling forced Hoffman into another extracurricular activity. His choice was acting after being selected to attend the 1984 Theater School at the New York State Summer School of the Arts. It was there he began learning how to act eventually leading him to his BFA degree at NYU. From there he joined the LAByrinth Theater Company in NYC where he was part of numerous Off- Broadway shows and the rest they say is history. Because all he did from there is move to Broadway and earn three separate Tony nominations for acting in True West (2000), Long Day’s Journey into Night (2003) and Death of a Salesman (2012), proving his worth in the world of theater.
You might be shocked to learn…Philip Seymour Hoffman has starred in over 50 films since the mid nineties. That might seem logical when you look at his age and how long he was active, but if I took a step further and quizzed everyone reading this, I would bet most would struggle to name at least five of those 50 films. And that’s OK given how often he played a supporting role in those films leaving me to wonder if he enjoyed that more. Looking back, I can name at least five films off the top of my head where his supporting role stood out. And three of those roles were nominated for Academy awards; “Doubt,” “Charlie Wilson’s War" and “The Master.” The other two, “25th Hour” and “Mission: Impossible III,” were not as critically acclaimed, but remember everything he did in those films with limited screen time. That’s the trick for any supporting actor or actress.; make your presence known in a short amount of time. And while his one Oscar was won off his tremendous depiction of Truman Capote in “Capote,” I felt his performance as Lancaster Dodd in “The Master” was just as good taking over scene after scene like it was his last. That was Hoffman to a “T” and why I considered him one of the best of his generation.
In his own words – Despite all the negativity surrounding Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, he was very much respected by his peers in Hollywood and on Broadway. And as a fan of his, I will truly miss him, which is why I wanted to leave you with some of Hoffman’s most prolific quotes compiled by CNN.com:
During his acceptance speech after winning the Oscar for Best Actor, Hoffman said, “She brought up four kids alone, and she deserves a congratulations for that. We’re at the party, ma, ya know?”
“Do they make really good movies with leading men anymore? I don’t think the romantic leading guy is around anymore, and I don’t really think I would be that guy if he was.”
“Acting is a personal thing. Hopefully the people you work with have a healthy enough sense of that, so it doesn’t carry over into something else. But that you go through something together…”
“For me, acting is torturous, and it’s torturous because you know it’s a beautiful thing. I was young once, and I said, ‘That’s beautiful and I want that.’ Wanting it is easy, but trying to be great – well, that’s absolutely torturous.”
“Actors are responsible to the people we play. I don’t label or judge. I just play them as honestly and expressively and creatively as I can.”
“On every film, you’ll have nights where you woke up at 2 A.M. and think, I’m awful in this. You see how delicate it is..a little movement to the right or the left, and you’re hopelessly hokey.”
”I went to rehab…I don’t know, I was young, I drank too much, you know, so I stopped. You know what I mean, it’s not really complicated. I had no interest in drinking in moderation. And I still don’t. Just because all that time’s passed doesn’t mean maybe it was just a phase. That’s you know, that’s who I am.” ~Quotes provided by The New York Times,The Guardian, Time, Esquire
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