Philip Seymour Hoffman

By | Begun 08/18/2004 | Updated Feb 02 2014
Posted in People | ,
Philip Seymour Hoffman

Update 2 Feb 2014: We lost him. We’ve lost one of our greats. We’ve lost a fine man, and an artist of the first order. Godspeed, Mr. Hoffman. You will NEVER be forgotten. I’m feeling this one keenly. Personally.

Oh, man, I love this guy. We all know people of a particularly strong temperamental ilk: the arrogant SOB, the crazy guy, the sensitive well-meaning type, the drama queen, the list goes on. It’s as though some folks are wired so tightly and so precisely in a particular way, it becomes their very nature, their identity. Beyond being a personality style, it’s the fabric of who they are, how they view and relate to the world, how they behave.

When I’ve known someone of such strong nature as this, I’ve observed two things. First, they often are quite comfortable in their own skin and fully accepting of themselves for better and worse. Second, they are so strongly grounded in their temperament that they have neither the inclination nor perhaps even the ability to view life through another lens. It seems to bring the people I’ve known a great sense of clarity, even direction, as though it’s so compelling it becomes a built-in compass. Not being so strongly wired myself, I find people with personalities of this kind intriguing. Sometimes they become my friends, sometimes I steer clear, and once or twice I’ve run in the other direction. But always they capture my interest.

So, Philip. When I saw him for the first time in Twister, I was sure he was a wild and crazy guy playing straight to type. He actually grated on me a bit for that, as though he were a wild and crazy guy getting off on the fact that he gets to play a wild and crazy guy in a movie, and isn’t that wild and crazy. Then came Boogie Nights and I granted that perhaps he wasn’t personally over the top, but remained unimpressed. The character was the same guy, just dialed back a bit and depressed. With Magnolia, Philip Seymour Hoffman caught my attention.

He caught it because he was completely off type to the wild and crazy guy. That guy was gone. Poof. The controlling wiring was. . . an illusion.

Some actors amaze me with their ability to become completely different human beings (think Norton). Philip Seymour Hoffman amazes me with his ability to become completely different versions of the same human being. Were he playing off his own personality, he’d a be a 1-Role Wonder™, which is what I originally expected, and which he isn’t. Ergo, there’s a mega-talent at work. I’ve never seen someone capture that strength of personality without personally possessing it – which somehow then precludes being able to capture anything else – but Hoffman can do it. It’s a wonder to behold.

Mr. Hoffman is a 3Roller™ »

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