Fare Thee Well, PSH

Woke to the news that Philip Seymour Hoffman, undoubtedly among the finest actor of his – or anyone’s – generation, of a suspected drug overdose. He was 46.

He might be my all-time favorite actor. I can’t recall not enjoying him in anything he appeared in.

Like many others, I first saw him in Scent of a Woman, in which he played a spoiled rich kid opposite Chris O’Donnell.

He stole the show in Boogie Nights:

He played the “straight man” in The Big Lebowski to perfection:

And the creepy perv in Happiness:

In Magnolia, Hoffman played a nurse intent on bridging the emotional and physical gap between a dying father (played by Jason Robards) and son (played by Tom Cruise). It was an understated performance, one in which Hoffman’s main task seemingly was to keep out of the way of notorious scene-chewer Cruise. To this end, PSH really brought it to the role. Here he is bridging the aforementioned gap, or at least setting the proverbial wheels in motion:

He even played Lester Bangs, and denounced coolness:

In what might be, in light of recent events, his most eerie role to date, Hoffman portrayed drug addicted desperado Andy. Obviously the part where he conspires to rob his family and then inadvertently has a hand in the untimely murder of his mother* is pure fiction, but the dependence on opiates to get through now cuts incredibly close to the bone. I had no idea he had a problem with drugs in the first place.

In Synecdoche, New York, Hoffman played Charlie Kaufman surrogate Caden Cotard. It is a strange and sometimes amazing film, made all the more watchable by Hoffman’s controlled brilliance.

And although he has featured in many timeless films, works that will no doubt in many cases be remembered as classics, I believe that it was his work in The Master that he will inevitably be most remembered for. I don’t recall ever seeing a more commanding, believable performance. In this scene, Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd meets Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell for the first time.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: always brilliant. Always believable. Never dull or unoriginal. A true great. He will be sorely missed.

* SPOILER WARNING NOT NECESSARY. If you haven’t seen this film, that is on you to rectify. A fantastic piece of cinema.

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