I can’t believe that I have to start the week with such devastating news. The great Philip Seymour Hoffman died over the weekend at the age of only 46.
The actor was found dead in his New York apartment on Sunday by a friend. The New York Times reports that he had a syringe in his arm and envelopes of what appeared to be heroin nearby. I wasn’t aware of Hoffman’s history of addiction problems, but Variety claims that he had been admitted to a rehab program last year for substance abuse, including snorting heroin. Sadly, this is just the latest case of drugs claiming a talented artist.
In his early career, Hoffman scored small, largely unmemorable parts in movies like ‘Scent of a Woman’ and ‘Twister’. He finally started gaining notice for himself playing emotionally stunted characters in Todd Solondz’s disturbing dark comedy ‘Happiness’ and Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Boogie Nights’. These led to more prominent roles that allowed him to showcase his tremendous range. He was nominated for Academy Awards for his performances in ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’, ‘Doubt’ and ‘The Master’ (again with Anderson), and won in 2006 for the bio-pic ‘Capote’. Hoffman most recently appeared on screen in ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’. He was scheduled to appear in that franchise’s next two sequels as well, but I’m not sure whether he’d filmed any footage for them. The actor also had a thriving stage career.
A couple of my favorite Hoffman performances are in lesser known movies, both of which happen to explore themes of death and mortality. ‘Love Liza’ (written by the actor’s brother, Gordy Hoffman) is an astute character study about how grief can really fuck a person up. (The film also deals with addiction, which may make it uncomfortable to watch now.) Charlie Kaufman’s bizarre, surreal ‘Synecdoche, New York’ is a complexly-layered story about (among other things) loss, missed opportunities and death.
The actor leaves behind a longtime girlfriend and three young children.
The following Philip Seymour Hoffman movies are currently available on Blu-ray:
- ‘Almost Famous‘
- ‘Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead‘
- ‘The Big Lebowski‘
- ‘Boogie Nights‘
- ‘Cold Mountain‘
- ‘The Ides of March‘
- ‘The Invention of Lying‘
- ‘Jack Goes Boating‘
- ‘A Late Quartet‘
- ‘The Master‘
- ‘Mission: Impossible III‘
- ‘Pirate Radio‘
- ‘Red Dragon‘
- ‘Scent of a Woman‘
- ‘Synecdoche, New York‘
- ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley‘
Additionally, ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘ will be released on March 7th.
‘Happiness’ would make an excellent addition to the Criterion Collection, if the distribution rights could ever be sorted out. At present, the film is only available on home video in substandard DVD editions. Criterion did release Solondz’s quasi-sequel ‘Life During Wartime’ on Blu-ray, but that one doesn’t feature Hoffman.