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.