Through his years of acting, Philip Seymour Hoffman proved that he was no ordinary actor in Hollywood by taking on some of the most difficult performances ever put on screen. By doing this, Hoffman showed the audience his true ability of transforming into the character. This is what Hoffman was known for – his ability to become someone else. Many actors can act but only few can truly turn into their character. Hoffman was one of them. Hoffman first grabbed my attention with 1997’s Boogie Nights as the sad, self-loathing Scotty J. Hoffman brought so much disgust and hatred toward himself in the role that I could not help but be amazed. Hoffman rarely played the good guy in films, but his performances were mesmerizing with his ability to show us the ugly side of humans.
Over the next 17 years, Hoffman proved his talent through independent films, Hollywood blockbusters and Broadway Theater productions. Hoffman surged on to films like Happiness and The Big Lebowski. His performance as Allen in Happiness was both disturbing and captivating. Audiences were not only noticing Hoffman’s potential but directors were as well. One in particular was director Paul Thomas Anderson. Hoffman went on to star in five PTA films (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and The Master).
In Magnolia, Hoffman gives us a sentimental but gut-wrenching performance as Phil Parma, a nurse trying to help a dying father find his alienated son. In 2000, Hoffman and John C. Rilley played the dynamic duo of sibling rivalry in Broadway’s True West. While Hoffman normally played the supporting actor in films, his role was still vital in films like The Talented Mr. Ripley, Almost Famous, Moneyball, Mission: Impossible III, Charlie Wilson’s War and Doubt. In my opinion, without Hoffman as the supporting actor in these films the quality would have changed drastically. Hoffman made a significant impact on all of his films.
Who could forget his Oscar-winning performance as Truman Capote in 2005’s Capote? Here he got his time to shine as lead actor, and he nailed his performance. Hoffman does not imitate Capote but becomes him. He shows us a man masked by superior intelligence and deep wounds. In 2012, Hoffman’s most memorable character was Lancaster Dodd in The Master. In my opinion, this was Hoffman’s greatest performance captured on screen. Hoffman poured everything he had into this film and truly captures a cult leader (Dodd) in the ’50s. Hoffman’s lectures and leadership in the film grabbed your attention and made you want to follow him. Here Hoffman proved that he was the true master of acting. “I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you,” Hoffman said in The Master. Even though he won only one Oscar, Hoffman’s performances brought blood, sweat and tears to the screen.
Overall, Hoffman won one Oscar, one British Academy Film Award (BAFTA) and one Golden Globe. On top of that, he had another 70 wins and 54 nominations through 63 films. Sadly, Hoffman’s life and career were cut short due to a heroin overdose on Sunday, Feb. 2, at the early age of 46. Hoffman struggled with drug and alcohol during his youth and at age 22 he took measures to get help. Reportedly, Hoffman had been sober for 23 years and was open publicly about his addictions. Of course, Hoffman was still human and struggled with temptations like the rest of us. Sadly, a single drink in 2012 is what spun his life back off track. Do not let this addiction overshadow Hoffman’s career or life. By no means does this make him a bad guy. It just shows us that he was human. As humans, we will all struggle with certain sins in our life and some more than others.
Sadly, Hoffman let his addiction overcome him. It was a tragic ending to a great actor and all we can do now is look back and remember the man who brought greatness to the screen. In the end, all I can say is thank you, Mr. Hoffman, for your passion toward films. You poured your heart out into your films and became the character. Your excellence and dedication will never be forgotten. May your films live on forever. I will miss you, Mr. Hoffman.
Make sure you check out Hoffman’s last four films, soon to be released: God’s Pocket, A Most Wanted Man and The Hunger Game: Mockingjay - Part 1 & 2.
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