1967 – 2014
Jim Tudor, ZekeFilm co-founder
For film buffs, this is one Super Bowl Sunday we’ll never forget. And it sadly has nothing to do with the big game. This is the day news broke of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, a headliner on the short list of greatest acting talent of our time.
Having arrived to prominence in that mind boggling era of the mid/late 1990s, when it seemed that auteur driven small and mid-level films might actually come to rule the Hollywood roost once again (as they did in the early 1970s), Philip Seymour Hoffman was never not great. And I mean GREAT. He enabled the movement with his unyielding and fearless performances. Hoffman was no tinsel town pretty boy, that much is obvious. He was far above that kind of People Magazine/People’s Choice Awards nonsense. But not so far above above it that he’d refuse involvement is some of the more prominent blockbusters of the last decade. Like a true chameleon-like thespian, he could hide within his roles as well as any great actor who ever graced the big screen. But, like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, there was also a persona he came to adopt, playing characters of a certain tenor and bemused restraint. You always knew it was him, in a good way. Hoffman was the incredibly rare talent to pull off both.
Here’s ZekeFilm Contributor Erik Yates with a personal remembrance of Philip Seymour Hoffman…
Erik Yates, ZekeFilm Contributor
My earliest memory of seeing a Hoffman film was Twister and Patch Adams. He showed up in so many films that people instantly recognize even when they didn’t always think of him. He was brilliant in his ability to embody every character he played no matter the overall quality of the film. For this reason, his characters are remembered and it continued to open doors to more interesting projects. He always played older characters it seems, and many will be surprised to find out that he was only 46 when he died.
He was one of the few talents that could handle small, independent film from Punch Drunk Love, Doubt, or last year’s film The Master to huge blockbusters such as Mission Impossible III to the current Hunger Games films. He was also deeply involved in performing plays with a group around New York. He could elevate anything he was in. And while he won an Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote, to me, he will always be the loveable characters he played in the spiritually related films Pirate Radio and the classic rock-n-roll picture Almost Famous. As Lester Bangs, in Almost Famous, he uttered a profound statement to 15-year old William Miller (the characterization of writer/director Cameron Crowe) when he said, “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool”. Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t “cool”. His art was never about that.
He picked projects that contained characters that we will remember because he was passionate about the art itself, and that always made the art better. He leaves behind a brilliantly large canvas for us to survey in the years to come. Like many artists, he had his demons, and in this case, was overcome by them. But he shared his artistic currency with us, and will continue to do so with unreleased projects and as we re-watch the films he left behind. While we experience his loss today, he will be remembered for years to come. Rest in Peace Mr. Hoffman.