RIP, Philip Seymour Hoffman

The Wall Street Journal, NY Post, NY Times and other outlets are reporting that Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead, reportedly from a drug overdose. He was 46.

He was a terrific actor and has an Oscar for his efforts, but what I liked most about him was the fact that both in look and demeanor, he was anything but the usual movie star. He was a shaggy, lumbering presence by default, and awfully mumbly. The quality of his craft snuck up on you, or at least, on me.

My own personal favorite performance of his is a bit of a black horse: It’s a David Mamet film called State and Main, where he plays a screenwriter on the set of a film; the character is slightly out of his depth and knows it, but is nevertheless bemused by the situation he’s gotten himself into. It’s a casual performance in a good but not great film and for some reason it just clicked with me and made Hoffman an actor I knew I liked to watch.

I’m sad that there won’t be more to watch him in. Thoughts to his family and friends. 46 is awfully young to go.

35 Comments on “RIP, Philip Seymour Hoffman”

  1. I have loved Philip Seymour Hoffman ever since I first noticed him – in one of the plotlines of Magnolia in I think ..’99?
    Then State and Main… you say good, not great.. I disagree. I think it is an amazing film; Mamet is a genius as both writer and director, and wrings wonderful things out of both unknowns as well as otherwise-typecast-famous actors and actresses. Hoffman is great and the true center of the movie. Everyone at all interested in film should watch State and Main! It is hysterical; a great farce with a sweet story snuck into the middle.
    :( still so very sad. not much else to say on that.

  2. Playing Doubting Thomas here: Has anybody officially come out and said “Philip Seymour Hoffman has died”, or is it all rumor and “a law enforcement official who requested anonymity because he was not certain the actor’s family had been informed of the death” (then WTF give the family further grief by keeping the rumor mill churning?!?). I’ll admit I’m more skeptical because the initial news sources were Murdoch-owned entities like the NY POST, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and Fox News (who have been known to – er, temper the truth to create a juicy story that fits their Far Right meta-narrative!) – but I’m also skeptical of the Internet’s tendency to report rumors as “truth” because everybody wants to Be First With a Scoop!

    Yes, Hoffman most likely died – but Tammy reminded me that it wasn’t that long ago that the same level of “credible evidence” claimed Jeff Goldblum(!) was dead, too. I don’t think it’s good for us as a society to reward rumormongering and bad journalistic practices….

  3. timeliebe:

    There doesn’t appear to be any doubt at this point that he’s dead. Multiple independent news organizations have confirmed it with NYPD.

  4. Did they officially confirm it, Scalzi? Or is it still on the order of “speaking on condition of anonymity”…?

    Like I said, it’s likely true – but there’s too much Rush To Judgment going on these days anyway.

  5. Timeliebe:

    Let me put it this way, Tim. There are enough independent reports of his death that I, a former professional journalist, feel 100% comfortable with noting the reports. While it’s possible that WSJ and CNN and the Times might individually have been hoaxed on a specific, discrete event, it seems highly unlikely that ALL of them have been hoaxed.

  6. Not sure why this bothers me more than any other celebrity death. He was truly gifted, but we all have to face our own demons in the end and that is truly scary … Still sucks though! I kinda wish I coulda offered any help in his recovery……maybe it would help in mine.

  7. I recall watching him in one of the Mission Impossible movies and thinking “This is a weak film but what a GREAT villain”. Maybe that’s the mark of a pro: do great work when handed mediocrity.
    State and Main is one of our favorites as well. I liked him very much in The Master. He and Joaquin Phoenix had a chemistry together that was so powerful.

  8. @timeliebe, taking a moment to click on the link Scalzi put in the original post, which goes to the New York Times’ report, would have answered many of your questions, such as the source of the report (which was not listed as ‘anonymous’) and the fact that his family issued a statement about his death.

    What a great shame, particularly for his young children.

  9. This makes me sad.

    The first film I can remember seeing PSH in was The Big Lebowski, where he played The Big Lebowski’s sidekick, Brandt. From IMDB:

    The Big Lebowski: Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Lebowski?

    [the Dude walks out and shuts the door]

    The Big Lebowski: The bums will always lose!

    Brandt: How was your meeting, Mr. Lebowski?

    The Dude: Okay. The old man told me to take any rug in the house.

  10. I first really noticed him in Flawless, a film he did with Robert De Niro, where he was a vocal coach who worked with drag queen performers. He lived upstairs from De Niro, a cop who’d suffered a stroke and needed to learn how to talk again. I rented the dvd to see De Niro, but every scene in which Hoffman appeared had me saying, “Who is this guy?” Because he was flawless.

    How sad to see him go.

  11. I didn’t even recognize him in Moneyball. Nothing like anything else I’d seen him in. Such a sad loss.

  12. Liked him in ‘Almost Famous’ as the music critic advising the young writer. Going to have to catch up on some of his other work.

  13. State and Main is one of my favorite films, and was also the first place I noticed PSH. I’ll miss the great work he might have done had things been different.

    I wish comfort to his family and friends.

  14. Lester Bangs. That was the character in ALMOST FAMOUS. That’s the first time I really noticed him. Loved him in any role he took on. So sorry he died too soon.

  15. The Talented Mr. Ripley, Magnolia, Almost Famous, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Owning Mahowny – five amazing performances. What a fine actor he was, and what a loss this is, both for his friends and family and for anyone who had the pleasure of seeing him perform.

  16. Although I’ve seen him in many things, lately Catchng Fire, the Hubs had no idea…until I showed him a clip from Twister…which is his favorite movie (he knows its not a great movie) and he cried…he has never cried over a celebrity death before…..

  17. Wow, that is pretty young and very sad. Drug overdose, so many tortured souls in Hollywood.

  18. Tim,

    I wanted it to be false, too.

    State and Main is a beautiful piece of work, and one of my favorites, but I have never seen PSH in anything I didn’t enjoy.

  19. So sad. I too loved him in State and Main and Almost Famous. But the performance I probably enjoyed most was in Charlie Wilson’s War. That scene where he’s in the office after learning he’s not getting the Station Chief’s job in Helsinki makes me laugh until I get tears in my eyes pretty much every time I watch it. The guy was an artist. He may have had an ego, but it never seemed to get in the way of his performances. He could make a bad film interesting just be being in it, at least for the moments he was on screen.

  20. I also enjoyed his performances in Synecdoche New York (a strange and wonderful film), The Savages and Doubt too.

  21. I’ll always remember him as The Count from The Boat that Rocked (released as Pirate Radio in N. America).

  22. Man, that’s a bummer. If I was watching a movie and he showed up, I’d generally find I’d perk up my attention a bit because he was always a very watchable actor.

  23. The thing I always found amazing about Hoffman was his transformative ability. He seemed to morph in ways that went beyond the physical. His performance in Capote was truly stunning, to me. Hard to believe it was the same actor who played the villain in Mission Impossible III, for example.

  24. One of my favorite actors. This is very sad news. My favorite performance of his was from The Talented Mr. Ripley. I have never seen a more subtly menacing performance from any actor in any movie. And he had one of the greatest movie voices of all time.

  25. Definitely one of my favorite actors, dare I say of his generation. In Punch Drunk Love he was very good at playing a particularly bad guy.