In my last post, I promised to get back to writing happier, more irreverent posts like I had been on this blog. However, as it sometimes goes, life got in the way. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead today at the age of 46. I’m going to try to not make a habit out of writing eulogies, but today I have so many thoughts and so many feelings that I need to get them out somehow.
I was 15 years old when I first watched Capote. I’m a pretty easy-going, good-humoured guy on a day to day basis, even more so when I was 15. If I am remembering correctly, Capote was the first ‘grown-up’ movie I’d ever really understood. I was just starting to get into acting, and to see a performance of the sheer transcendent quality of Hoffman’s Truman Capote really solidified the idea that being someone else professionally might be something I’d like to do. To see someone completely disappear into a character was so hugely formative on burgeoning sensibilities as an actor, that I’m not really sure what I’d be doing if I hadn’t seen the film.
In subsequent films I’d watch him in, I was so surprised at how much he could change between characters, and how easily the change seemed to come to him. Charlie Wilson’s War, for example, he played a schlubby CIA agent; nowhere near Truman Capote’s effete superiority. I hadn’t been lucky enough to see some of his most acclaimed performances like The Master or Doubt, but from what I have seen in those trailers, he kept up an amazing quality without even batting an eye. Before The Dark Knight Rises started filming, there was a rumour that he would be playing the Penguin, and it saddens me greatly that as slim as the odds were of that ever happening, they are now completely impossible.
John Donne wrote, “do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” this quotation can be taken to mean that when one person dies, humanity as a whole suffers. Anyone who dies in the prime of their lives is a huge loss and a tragedy, but there is something inside of me that believes the loss that the world has suffered today from a creative standpoint is hugely tragic. In the era of popular culture where there is nothing new under the sun, Philip Seymour Hoffman gave us all something original to aspire to. The fact that his death was preventable and so sad is just more insult to the injury of losing such a bright, engaging talent. Rest in Peace, Philip Seymour Hoffman. You will be missed.