Philip Seymour Hoffman was a brilliant actor, and there are few things more painful for film fans to write than the word “was.”
Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment on Sunday afternoon. He was 46.
It’s hard to summarize the life of an artist whose body of work, while astounding, still felt incomplete.
Hoffman was by far one of the greatest actors of his generation, delivering a string of performances that dwarfs the vast majority of Hollywood’s population in terms of sheer, sustained quality and brilliance. There was seemingly nothing the man couldn’t do, be it as Lester Bangs, the laid-back, smarmy sage to Patrick Fugit’s would-be rock journalist in “Almost Famous,” or the desperate pharmacy samaritan in “Magnolia,” the sneering and uncrackable villain Owen Davian in “Mission: Impossible 3” or the struggling theater director undergoing a massive existential crisis.
He pulled it off with an insight and skill that made it all seem so effortless. Regardless of whether the film was an Oscar contender (of which there were many) or mediocre (“Red Dragon”) or too sappy for its own good (“Patch Adams”), one thing was for certain: Hoffman would be brilliant and he’d be as such giving 100 percent of his skill and effort.
Detractors like to rag on people for being sad about the deaths of celebrities and actors and artists who the vast majority of us had never met. But it’s people like Hoffman who justify that sadness, because he wasn’t simply a pretty face or a guy whose fame came for no real reason.
Hoffman was a true artist, one whose work showed an immense amount of insight and heart and passion, regardless of how he died. The silver screen will be forever dimmer with the loss of this man and the untold number of great performances and contributions we had yet to see from him.
May he rest in peace.