Hoffman: an everyman champion

He was burly and slovenly and disheveled. He was also considered one of the best actrors of his generation. He was also battling demons.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman died this weekend from battles with drugs, battles that the world didn't seem to know about. It's always interesting to realize that whenever we step out in public, we are usually putting on our best face. We are wearing our best clothes, plastering on our goofy smiles and telling those around us that life is great. And it might very well be. But we all have problems, problems behind closed doors. Arguments with spouses, bad news from doctors, stress from work.

By all accounts, Hoffman lived a life doing what he wanted to do. He was able to act on stage and screen and be revered for it. He was not a leading man. He never got the girl. He was the dumpy character actor who could turn himself into Truman Capote, Lester Bangs or Art Howe, as well as many fictional characters. We all thought he was living the dream. But anyone who delves it into the world of herion usually has problems far beyond our sightlines.

I first remember Hoffman as the spoiled kid who slips out of school administration punishment by his daddy's deep pockets in "Scent of a Woman." But it was his roles in "Almost Famous" as rock and roll writer Lester Bangs and in "Magnolia" as a hospice nurse tracking down a dying man's son that won me over. By the time he won the Best Actor Oscar for "Capote," he had given the world of overweight, not-quite handsome men a champion. You girls can keep your Clooneys and Pitts. We have Hoffman.

He lived until he was 46, five years more than my dad, who passed away of natural causes. Anyone who says "what a waste" when realizing how he died is wrong. His life wasn't a waste. He did what he loved to do, and hopefully, he was happy, at least some of the time, while doing it.

That's never a waste of a life to me.

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ucantbserious 02/03/14 - 11:09 am

Very well said, Richard.

I agree with you point. A waste? No. A tragedy? Most definitely.

He was a great actor who I loved especially in films where he was able to showcase more endearing traits. Twister was a movie I saw in the theater as a teen and his goofy character "Dusty" was such so lovable and personable. Along Came Polly was another great role for him where he played the good friend of Ben Stiller's character.

The best part about his acting is that he was anything but a 'type'. He played a variety of roles from good to evil and could always evoke some sort of genuine emotional response from the audience. That is the definition of being a great actor.

alipage72 02/03/14 - 08:26 pm

He was definitely one of my favorite actors. He was so diverse in the character he could play and I believed him in each role. Whenever I heard his name, I knew it was a movie I would want to see, and that is a great compliment to someone who was not the lead. I hate that he had these kind of demons. I feel sorry for his small children for the loss of their father, and I feel sorry for the rest of us that will miss out on seeing him larger than life on the big screen. He was exceptional at his job.

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