Sunday, February 02, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman, RIP

The first time I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman, he made me physically uncomfortable. That's how good he was. Playing the perverse, perpetually-frustrated neighbor Allen in directly Todd Solondz's squirm-inducing 1998 dark comedy Happiness, Hoffman made creepy compelling, and unnerving energizing. As time went on, I discovered his previous work like The Big Lebowski and Boogie Nights, and I soon came to anticipate his future appearances, whether in mainstream fare like Mission: Impossible III in '06, or more heady stuff like 2012's The Master. While he lacked the looks and build of a traditional leading man, Hoffman was the character actor's character actor, and a brief glance at his resume shows how much mileage he got out of being the consummate supporting player.

In an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes back in February of '06, shortly before his Best Actor win for Capote rocketed him to a whole other level of stardom, Hoffman addressed the prior issues he'd had with substance abuse, and his previous bid to defeat them. And as a much-publicized relapse just this past summer demonstrated, it had remained an ongoing battle for the actor. Unfortunately for all of us who enjoyed his work, not to mention the family and friends he leaves behind, it's a battle that he's lost as of this morning's word out of New York that Hoffman has died at age 46 of an apparent drug overdose. While his passing has extinguished one of the most talented lights of his generation, if a teachable moment emerges in its wake warning of the dangers of addiction, then maybe that's some small shred of positivity we can extricate from this very sad news.

Check out the vid below for a highlight from Hoffman's memorable turn as psychotic Mission: Impossible villain Owen Davian, and click over to Vulture for a list of some of his other most memorable roles:

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