Is it better to burn out or fade away? It seems like all too often we are given examples to help answer that question. Marylin Monroe died at the age of 36 capturing her image and immortalizing it. History will always remember her as the beautiful blonde woman who sang “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. Had she not died, today she would have been an 87 year old has been who once was known for her beauty; history would have eventually forgotten her.
So is it a curse or a blessing that Phillip Seymour Hoffman should die at the age of 46 during the highest point in his career? We all die, but only some of us become immortal. Hoffman certainly will go down as one of the bests actors of his generation and whether he lived another 40 years that would not have changed.
I was very surprised to read that he was only 46 years old. I assumed that he was at least in his mid fifties, not based on his looks but based on the, impressive to say the least, body of work he had. There have been films I’ve watched where I was surprised to even see him in and still sometimes forget he was even in them. “The Big Lebowski” is a good example of that. In that film he showed so much versatility in playing the all too polite butler of the eponymous character, showcasing a great deal of talent for background roles that SHOULD be forgotten at the end of a film. In another film “Scent of a Woman” he played a student who pulls a prank and sets in motion the events of the film. He plays it calm and is not very concerned about his fate or even about the fate of anyone involved including the innocent students. Then of course in an excellent thriller called “The Talented Mr. Ripley” he played a small but important role whose job was to push the protagonist over the edge and do something rash. In all three films he did one of the most difficult jobs an actor of his caliber can do; he held back. He knew that the show wasn’t his to steal; he knew that his character was fully fledged and he didn’t need to bring anything to the film that his character didn’t already do. He respected his characters so much that some of his best work will be forgotten.
I have never seen a film were he didn’t give a great performance. Even in films like “Along Came Polly” or “Patch Adams” where it is so easy to lose control of everything, he remained a positive force for the films and performed his character like he should have.
I for one think he will definitely be missed in Hollywood as now there is one less actor we can fully trust working in the field, and that is why I am truly upset about his passing. Hoffman could have lived to the age of 100 and still have burned out when he died. He would have never faded away.
Thank you for your patience with me reader. I know it has been a long time since my last post but hopefully now that the ball is going again I will be able to deliver. Soon I should be able to post a list of my favorite films of last year, do not miss it.