If anyone claims to know me well, they’re going to know one or few things. One of them is that I can’t stand the beach for the sole reason of hating the feel of sand. The other is that I had no trouble answering when someone asked me who my favorite all time actor is. There’s no comparison here; it’s Philip Seymour Hoffman. When I was a freshman in high school I watched him in such fantastic versatility in a few Paul Thomas Anderson films such as “Magnolia”, “Hard Eight”, “Punch Drunk Love”, and “Boogie Nights”, I just knew that Seymour was simply, without a doubt the best. To my dismay, on Sunday, February 2nd Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment. He was 46 years old.
Philip Seymour Hoffman rose to fame in 1992 after his role in “Scent of a Woman”, his biggest gig prior to that was a guest spot on an episode of “Law & Order” in 1991. After that, he began to gain more ability and recognition from the film industry. Hoffman began his first collaboration with critically acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson in 1996 with the film “Hard Eight”. This led to him being featured in each of Anderson’s films to date (minus 2007’s “There Will Be Blood” which starred Daniel Day Lewis) and the true range of his acting skill was gloriously spotlighted. He then went onto films like “Patch Adams”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Almost Famous”, “25th Hour”, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, and “Moneyball” just to name an select few from his superb filmography. However it was in 2005 that Hoffman starred in the biographical film “Capote” and he won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture.
The thing I love about Philip Seymour Hoffman is that his versatile range was, and always will be, endlessly entertaining. The way he would play different characters was so impressive and fascinating that there was no way you could ever grow tired of seeing him on screen. For example, just look at how in 2004 he brought the term “sharting” (which using context clues I’ll let the reader decipher what that term means) into mainstream vocabulary in his relentlessly hilarious performance as Sandy Lyle in “Along Came Polly” and then in the very next year, he literally changed himself- personality, voice, and all- to play Truman Capote in “Capote”. It’s incredible, he can jump from sentimental and touching parts in acclaimed dramas then work his way back and dominate any comedy he plays a part in. No one else could do it like him.
Recently this year, Philip Seymour Hoffman played a supporting role in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. When I found out about it, I was a bit surprised he’d take a part in the franchise. At the time I had absolutely no interest in the movies or the books. Finally after some convincing from my girlfriend (and just forcing myself to do it so I could understand the plot and enjoy Hoffman’s performance that much more), I read the three book series. Seymour was, of course, brilliant and brought an elegant dynamic to the cast.
I call Philip Seymour Hoffman the master of Hollywood not as pun off his 2012 film (and final Paul Thomas Anderson collaboration) “The Master”, but as opinion that is clear as fact to me. No other actor or actress in the ‘biz’ could resonate with me like he did. His performances were consistently and effortlessly grounded. He set an impossible standard, and I’m so appreciative that he shared his gift of performance each time he appeared on screen or on stage. This movie lover, along with countless others, will forever be thankful and appreciative of his capability and expertise of acting.
Montclair State | New Jersey