Losing Philip Seymour Hoffman

It’s just awful to learn that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead at 46 from a heroin overdose.  He had so much to lose.  It’s scary to think such an successful and thoughtful actor, a person of such enormous accomplishments, could end up that way.  How did his life reach a point where he was left alone in his apartment to self-destruct?

Creative people often tend toward self-destruction, especially when realizing their gifts seems like hard work to them.  PSH gave a lot of interviews where he described acting as a difficult, even unpleasant process – he compared it to lugging a suitcase upstairs with your brain, if I remember the quote correctly.  Perhaps when you dig that deep, you should’t be surprised to find some demons waiting for you.

I don’t think he ever gave a bad performance, not even when the film only had ten minutes to spare for him.  He never looked like a leading man, so he made a banquet of the roles leading men can’t wrap their heads around.  He was the whole rest of the world.  And when the movie did give him more than ten minutes, he always managed to work in something you recognized from your own life, some flash of a person you met once upon a time.  You came away thinking that you must have bumped into him once upon a time, maybe while taking a long airplane flight or waiting for a bus, and told him some anecdote he filed away for future reference.  I’ll bet you could ask him what any character he ever played was doing five years before the first scene of the movie, and he could have told you off the top of his head.

I’m a voracious reader, and I can’t think of a single book I’ve read that wouldn’t have a part for Philip Seymour Hoffman, if it were made into a movie.  I planned to hold off on reading the last “Hunger Games” book because I didn’t want to read about what his character was going to do; I wanted to see him do it.  What a terrible loss.


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