Wednesday, February 05, 2014

R.I.P the Consummate Actor

We were driving back from Oshawa late Sunday afternoon, when I heard the news about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death. It really stunned me in every regard, his age, the overdose, that he had planned to meet his kids for some time together. Of course there was also the loss of one of the great actors of his time. He didn't have movie star looks but no one could enter a role the way Hoffman could.

Playing Truman Capote in Capote was a remarkable, almost magical slight of hand, given that Hoffman was so much bigger a man. I don't think I ever saw him in a movie where I didn't think he was great, including Mission Impossible 77, or whatever number it was. He was great in A Late Quartet as well, a little film with a lot of fine acting.

There were two juicy, although very different roles as religious types as well. As the priest, Father Flynn, in Doubt he embodied ambiguity not only for this particular cleric but as a symbol of the priesthood in a changing culture. I remember a spirited conversation with wife Ruth as we drove home about what actually happened with Father Dodd

Then there was Lancaster Dodd, the thinly disguised L. Ron Hubbard in The Master. He managed to create a wonderfully overblown and yet insecure messiah figure. Even though it wasn't a biography it gave us a sense of what can go wrong with a charismatic and mesmerizing personality.

Movies can serve as parables for all that really matters in life, including spirituality and religion. Philip Seymour Hoffman seemed to be the consummate guide into life's complexity and he will be missed.

Have you enjoyed Hoffman's work through the years? Do you have favourite films? Did you see Doubt and The Master, and what did you think?


roger said...

Hoffman had always been one of my favourite actors. I just loved the guy!

I did see Doubt, and he was spectacular in that, however I really loved him in "The Talented Mr. Ripley", where he played Freddie Miles.

Such a sad loss. As one doctor on CNN said, there is no cure for addiction. A recovering addict is always just one temptation away from getting back into trouble.

colinm said...

Is talent fuelled by stimulants or one's innate muses? Or a combination of both? On the eve of the winter olympics, we can sadly predict that a few athletes will engage in what the IOC will declare as "doping".

The causes of addiction, whether to escape personal problems, or as a result of over indulgence from recreational trials can still be tragic.

The first time I saw Hoffman was in Patch Adams. If anyone would have been on drugs it would have been Robin williams, while Hoffman played such a serious role.

Then again, being a celebrity is a high, the temptations to transform it from the celebral (spiritual) to the physical are very high. Dealing with praise, adulation, and even glorification may make one feel inadequate without chemical stimulation.

Is this what ancient seers and priests felt when conducting tribal rituals?