Philip Seymour Hoffman always made me smile. He had this realness and authenticity that I don’t think I have experienced from any other actor. Just as if he might be anyone I’d have sitting in my backyard having a BBQ. I’m not exactly sure why that was. I’m sure in part it was because of how he looked. Not Hollywood. Maybe that’s what made him feel so accessible. His characters were all so varied. I wonder if that’s why it seemed he’d be able to fit in, no matter where he was or who he was with.
I wonder if Phil felt like he fitted in...
Reviewing his credits on IMDB today, I realised I had no idea just how many television shows and movies I have actually seen him in. Quite a resume.
My favourite, and one of his most striking performances was opposite Meryl Streep in Doubt, 2008. Skin-crawlingly great.
Today I heard a radio interview with Brendan Cowell, an Australian actor who Phil directed in the Sydney Theatre Company’s True West in 2010. Brendan, clearly shocked, described a sensational man. He said, “All truly gifted actors are all really beautiful people.” I bought it.
Phil attended Brendan’s book launch in Australia and posed for photos with his mother and grandmother with no hint of ego to be observed. A gentleman.
So what was missing Phil? So talented. So gifted. So admired. What were you looking for?
Perhaps Jim Carey understood, a little:
"Dear Philip, a beautiful beautiful soul. For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much. Bless your heart.''
“Acting is so difficult for me that, unless the work is of a certain stature in my mind, unless I reach the expectations I have of myself, I’m unhappy. Then it’s a miserable existence. I’m putting a piece of myself out there. If it doesn’t do anything, I feel so ashamed. I’m afraid I’ll be the kind of actor who thought he would make a difference and didn’t. Right now, though, I feel like I made a little bit of difference.” Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Yes Philip Seymour Hoffman. You made a difference.
But more than a little bit.