Whenever a famous person dies it always leaves me shocked for a few days afterwards. I remember it happening when Joe Strummer died, and Heath Ledger, and more recently Ryan Dunn, James Gandolfini and Paul Walker. I don’t even have to know any of their work (Walker) to still feel the shock. Sure, some people get old and they die and it’s not really a surprise. It’s no less sad, but it happens to everyone. Philip Seymour Hoffman though, was far too young. I’m not going to say that what makes it even sadder is that because he was supremely talented, because that doesn’t count for anything at the end of the day. We shouldn’t mourn Seymour Hoffman any more than Paul Walker or Ryan Dunn, or the average person in the street for that matter. But wow, that guy was talented!
I’ll admit to not having seen his Oscar winning turn in Capote, and I know I’ve not included The Big Lebowski, 25th Hour, Moneyball and countless others, but here are a few of MY favourite Seymour Hoffman films and performances…
Boogie Nights (1997)
Playing the sexually confused Scotty J, this was the first time most people would probably have seen Seymour Hoffman, despite his appearances in numerous films prior. It kick started a fruitful collaboration with it’s director Paul Thomas Anderson, after a first appearance in Anderson’s debut Hard Eight.
Another appearance in a Paul Thomas Anderson ensemble, this time as Phil Parma, a carer to Jason Robards dying Earl Partridge. He has to contend with Partridge’s vicious younger wife played by Julianne Moore. Hoffman brings a real gentleness and humility to the role.
Punch Drunk Love (2002)
Another, lesser known Paul Thomas Anderson hook up. Seymour Hoffman plays a support role in this Adam Sandler arthouse movie (yeah I know, strange things happen sometimes). PSH plays Dean Trumbell, a crooked mattress salesman who blackmails Sandler’s character. It’s not a huge role, but it’s a great movie!
Before The Devil Knows Your Dead (2007)
A film by 83 year old Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Network, Dog Day Afternoon) which seemed to slip totally under the radar, despite featuring the likes of Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Michael Shannon and Albert Finney. It is the tale of two brothers (one played by Seymour Hoffman) who rob their fathers jewellery store, and the unfortunate consequences. Check it out if you’ve not heard of it, it’s a decent little movie.
The Master (2012)
A final collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson, and an acting master class from Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, even if the film itself wasn’t one of Anderson’s best. Seymour Hoffman plays the titular character The Master or Lancaster Dodd to his ‘family’. It is probably the best display of his acting skills to date and worth it just to see PSH go for it.