Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died on Super Bowl Sunday of an apparent heroin overdose at the age of 46. The fact that he inadvertently chose that particular day gave a hint of Dickens to his demise. He might have waited until “Oscar Night”, when those watching (unlike the Super Bowl aficionados) wouldn’t have been asking “Philip Seymour who?” He deserved a better end. His talent was immense, but so, apparently, was the burden it imposed upon his psyche. From the first time I saw him in Scent of a Woman (as George, the sniveling rich kid) to to the last role I saw him in as Lancaster Dodd in The Master (not his final role, but the last one I saw) I was always aware that I was watching someone special. As it was with so many other tormented souls classified as artists who have died prematurely, Hoffman’s death was testimony to the contradictory life he led. He was blessed with enormous talents that most envy, yet saddled with a personality so complex and fragile that he was unable to function without drugs and alcohol. Why? We’ll never know the answer. If there were one, someone would surely have already made a fortune hawking it to those in need.
For a while, at least, I will have great difficulty watching any of Hoffman’s films. But, at some point I will lower my guard and once again be mesmerized by his incredible performances in films like Capote, The Savages, The Big Lebowski, The Master, Magnolia, Doubt, and Charlie Wilson’s War, to name just a few. Ironically, Hoffman had worked quite a lot lately, and it seemed to the casual onlooker that the world was his oyster. Tragically, such was not the case.
RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman