We remember the best of the actor who sadly left us too soon
We at Movies.ie are still reeling from the news that Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away yesterday at his home in New York. It seems, having been clean for 23 years, the actor’s demons returned and, even though he checked into rehab in 2012, Philip Seymour Hoffman was died from a suspected overdose. It is always sad when we lose a great talent, but to lose Mr Hoffman at the age of just 46 seems particularly cruel.
Russell Hainline (@RussellHFilm) said of Mr Hoffman, on Twitter, last night, ‘…Thirty people could name thirty different scenes as his best scene. And they’d all be right’. We have to agree with this, and we have compiled our favourites from the actor’s impressive and inspiring back catalogue.
Many of us first noticed Mr Hoffman in his small but intricately layered performance as Scotty J. in BOOGIE NIGHTS. Hoffman was not afraid to play ugly in BOOGIE NIGHTS and this tragic scene, where Scotty finally confesses his desire for Dirk Diggler, shows the actor at his best. To convincingly swing from euphoria to despair on screen is something many actors struggle with but here, Hoffman makes it look easy. A true mark of his talent.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI
Yes, we know HAPPINESS was released in the same year as THE BIG LEBOWSKI, but Mr Hoffman’s performance as the Bog Lebowski’s man servant Brandt is one that we have a lot of love for. Brandt’s upbeat nature and relentless optimism shone through in a film filled with cynical and struggling characters. With his performance as Brandt, Hoffman proved that he had a talent for comedy, and even though he may not have got the most quotable lines in the film, there is always a joy in hearing him refer to the Dude as… well, The Dude.
After THE BIG LEBOWSKI, Hoffman turned out wonderful performances in THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY, MAGNOLIA and ALMOST FAMOUS, but his role as the heartbroken Wilson Joel in LOVE LIZA showed us just how well Mr Hoffman embodied the everyman in his work.
Written by his Hoffman’s Gordy, LOVE LIZA gave the actor a chance to explore a character who is relatable in his seeming inability to connect with other people and deal with every day life. Hoffman makes Wilson fragile and deflated, no mean feat for a substantial and bulky actor.
ALONG CAME POLLY
It is easy to quote Philip Seymour Hoffman’s great achievements as a dramatic actor, but lets not forget that he had a huge talent for comedy as well. In 2004’s ALONG CAME POLLY, Hoffman played Ben Stiller’s quirky best friend Sandy Lyle, a fallen child star who is consistently told by people he meets, that they are amazed he is still alive. Hoffman threw himself into the over the top and comically melodramatic role, and surprised his audience once again.
Hoffman took on an uncomfortable role in DOUBT, a priest who, after summoning a child to the refectory alone, is preyed on by Meryl Streep’s Sister Aloysius. Hoffman is compelling and engaging as Father Flynn; a caring, considerate man who may also be taking advantage of his position of trust. The doubt cast on Hoffman’s character is an metaphor for the position of the Catholic Church in society and Hoffman, once again, shines in the role of a broken hearted character with a dark underbelly.
A LATE QUARTET
As a string quartet approaches it’s 25th anniversary, one of their number falls ill, unleashing the tensions and resentments within the group. A LATE QUARTET is yet another film about the perils of growing older and dealing with the things you lose along the way. Hoffman brings a world-weariness to his character, Robert, but allows the character to genuinely wish for his glory days, when life and music excited him. Hoffman’s performance is gentle but powerful and the emotional path the character takes is not so much about the destination, but the journey. In this clip Hoffman berates Mark Ivanir for keeping his passion closed in, something that, as an actor, Hoffman never seemed to be afraid of doing.
We could write thousands and thousands of words on Philip Seymour Hoffman’s work as an actor, but we have had to limit ourselves, although we will give honourable mentions to his performances CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III, SYNCECDOCHE, NEW YORK, THE MASTER and of course, the role for which he won an Academy Award, CAPOTE.
Which is your favourite performance from the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman? Let us know in the comments below.
Words: Brogen Hayes