When a public figure dies, no matter what the causes may be, they leave you with a hollow feeling of the things they might have done in the future. That’s what we felt when Heath Ledger was found dead in 2008 and that’s exactly the case with the passing of American actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman on Sunday February 2nd, 2014.
Hundreds of fans gathered at his apartment building in Greenwich Village in New York City after the news spread, the early cause was believed to be an heroin overdose after the actor was found with a needle in his arm.
Woody Allen once said he didn’t want to achieve immortality through his films, but by not dying, yet the truth is when you’re in films, your imprint stays forever in your work, and what Seymour Hoffman showed us is his immense talent, his penchant for the unusual not judging his characters but finding the humanity under their skin and leaving the judging to the audience.
Hoffman’s career began in television, before he was given supporting roles in films like ‘Scent of a Woman’. Usually actors that don’t quiet fit Hollywood’s cannon of “beauty” are relegated to supporting roles, however his powerful and out of the ordinary performances lead him to create characters that, even if supporting, inhabited a full dimension of each of the films he was in: Tod Solondz’ ‘Happiness’, Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘Magnolia’, The Coen Brother’s ‘The Big Lebowski’, Antony Minghella’s ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ and Cameron Crowe’s ‘Almost Famous’ attest to this.
Actors of this level often resort to the indie universe for better material, and so he had his first starring role as a “gasoline fumes” addict in Love Liza, before he was brought in by Bennett Miller to personify Truman Capote in 2005. Even if there was another film about Capote that same year, there was no doubt he was the true thing and was almost unanimously given the Academy Award as best actor.
Three other nominations for best supporting actor would follow: “Charlie Wilson’s War”, “Doubt” and “The Master”. And he directed his first film in 2010: “Jack Goes Boating”.
In any case, his work is out there as part of our filmic memory.
Here, is a list of some of the performances that highlight his infinite and unusual talent.