We Remember Philip Seymour Hoffman
By Dale Angell
We are all shocked by the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. There are certain actors who have an ability to connect so well with the audience that we feel we know them, almost like family. Hoffman was such a person. His personality shone threw the odd ball characters he loved to play. He could make even the most disturbing character somehow "lovable" or at least strangely funny. In Charlie Wilson's War, he tended to steal every scene he appeared in. Just his presence made the viewer smile.
Hoffman won an Academy Award in 2005 for his role in Capote, in which he played the exotic writer Truman Capote. He also received three Academy Award nominations as best supporting actor, for The Master in 2013, Doubt in 2009 and his great performance in Charlie Wilson's War in 2008.
Hoffman had an early career in lesser rolls but suddenly burst out when he was tapped to play in films better suited to his unique style. He played in major films, but his forte was independent films where he breathed life into odd and sometimes disturbing characters in films like Happiness, in which he played an obscene phone caller. His award winning role in Capote showed his understanding of the truly odd, none odder that Truman Capote.
It was well known that Hoffman struggled with addiction, and his death is said to be from a heroin overdose. While his death is tragic, it is also one more example of the failure of the "war on drugs" in America. Hoffman was not a criminal, not a thug. He was a wonderful human and artist. Who did drugs. Passing laws against this had no impact on his death at all except perhaps to make it even more likely. No DEA agent was there to stop him, no law to keep him from living the way he wanted to. The only help we as a society can even hope to offer is to always be there for addicts who seek help, and ensure a predictable clean supply of the drugs people will find and buy whether or not "we" want them to. Janis died when she injected a "hot shot" of heroin. As a society we would never accept such an unstable deadly "product" on the market, but by pretending we can simply outlaw drugs, we create the underground, violent, criminal and deadly market in drugs. It's too soon to say how Hoffman died, and way to soon to say why, but its a tragic loss to us all. It breaks my heart.
At least we have the films. And so he lives on as do all the actors we have come to love who have passed away. It's tragic we will never have a new film from Hoffman, but he now joins the immortal legends of the cinema. May he rest in peace.