An actor, first and foremost
by PE Kelley, Managing EditorL&HA e-newsLink
While I am surprised to learn that Philip Seymour Hoffman may have struggled with addiction, I am not at all surprised that it never became front page news. In fact, it never really surfaced at all. A consummate actor, he played his roles seamlessly and, it appears, lived his life privately. We never read about him crashing and burning in public; instead we heard only about his work, there in the background of our lives, which presents a diverse portfolio of characters that he portrayed exquisitely.
Like many, I first encountered him in Scent of a Woman, playing the boorish, entitled classmate to Chris O’Donnell’s prep school charity case, and nailing that character’s snot-nosed, rich-boy callousness. I thought out loud ‘who IS this guy?,’ and from that day forward would always notice when he’d play another role.
As Lester Bangs, the counter-culture music critic in Almost Famous, he schooled Patrick Fugit’s 16 year old rock-poet wannabe along his way to stardom for Rolling Stone magazine. Although he was a minor character in that storyline, just a small piece of the overall narrative, he delivered it with such charisma. The LA Times called him ‘ a Lester Bangs for the ages,’ and we just wanted to hang out in his studio and listen to his records. And in this role, he delivered one of the greatest coming-of-age lines ever: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”
That’s how I recall many of his roles. Stand out performances in either leading or supporting parts. Always professional, always weaving his characters into the story lines and always leaving us impressed. Big or small.
I don’t know why I feel this way about a man I never met in person, perhaps because his characters have made me feel this way, but I’ll truly miss Philip Hoffman. In a moment of such shock and surprise, I am reminded of how he so impressed me with his work.
Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers remembers Philip Seymour Hoffman
Uncool… Almost Famous