One of my favourite actors of all time, Philip Seymour Hoffman has died aged 46 of a drug overdose, BBC News reports here, here, here, and here. I have not seen all of Hoffman’s films, but in all those that I have, he lit up the screen with his unique persona and made an indelible impression, whether in a lead or a supporting role.
The above video is a quintessential Hoffman scene/performance from Todd Solondz’s indie black comedy, Happiness (think American Beauty a thousand times darker and more fucked up!), with Hoffman playing Allen; a sexually repressed, emotionally stunted pervert who (quite literally) gets off by calling women at random from his phone book and a man so boring that even his own shrink zones out on him. As Empire magazine commented in their review of Red Dragon where Hoffman played doomed journalist Freddy Lounds “no-one plays snivelling and enfeebled like Philip Seymour Hoffman.”
Hoffman’s greatest performance, and the one that deservedly earned him an Oscar for Best Actor was as Truman Capote in Bennett Miller’s 2005 film, Capote, documenting the eccentric New York writer’s researching of his masterpiece “non-fiction novel”, In Cold Blood: an account of the brutal murders of Herbert Clutter and his family by Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Edward Smith in Holcomb, Kansas in the penultimate month of the 1950s. Hoffman brilliantly portrayed both the good and the bad sides of Capote’s charismatic genius, presenting him as a sympathetic and compassionate man, while at the same time being manipulative and deceitful in his quest to obtain the truth from the two killers in a project that ultimately would leave the writer mentally scarred for the rest of his life.
Hoffman is the latest in a long line of truly great artists whose tragically early demise has secured their legendary status.