I’m very sad to see that Philip Seymour Hoffman has died, at age 46.
He was one of my absolute favourite actors, ever since I first saw him in Boogie Nights (image below) in 1997.
Philip was ugly, and ugly actors are the best. In fact, with the exceptions of Leonardo DiCaprio and Sean Penn, good-looking people can’t act (and to be honest, Sean wasn’t good-looking at all as a youth).
But being ugly also means you’re confined to minor roles, like that of a sleazy pervert in Happiness (1998). It was an indie movie, Love Liza (2002), that first gave Philip a role as a leading actor, although he had had a prominent role next to Robert De Niro in Flawless (1999) by then. I saw that one at a 24-hour movie theater in South Beach, Miami at 5 in the morning after having left a boring circuit party.
I was happy to see Philip getting the recognition his acting deserved. In Capote (2005) everything fell into place for him; it was a bit like Stephen Fry’s Wilde with the incredible likeness to the historical figure he portrayed. (And I don’t even know what the real Capote was like, I don’t feel I need to know – that’s good acting!) He got the Oscar for Best Actor that year.
I haven’t seen anything by him since Capote. This is partly because I haven’t watched many (Hollywood) movies at all recently, but also because it was more of a sport to try to find the films where he was a supporting actor, before his breakthrough. I remember the thrill of watching Love Liza at some indie film festival, how I felt like we were on the same side against the establishment that wouldn’t allow him a leading role. And the darkness of that movie, what a contrast to his previous “gag roles”.
Rest in peace, Philip!