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In Memoriam - Philip Seymour Hoffman

February 7, 2014 - Nick Dutro
One of my favorite actors died Sunday.

I have never met Philip Seymour Hoffman, and, to the best of my knowledge, I don’t even have six degrees of separation from him (his Kevin Bacon number is 2, by the way). But he was an actor I loved to watch. He shined in almost every picture he was in, be it as part of an all-star cast or in a mostly forgettable film.

And he died Sunday, from what reports say was a heroin overdose.

Some public figures can affect you, be it in their lives and deaths. I had a similar feeling last year when film critic Roger Ebert died, another person for which I had great respect and admiration. Both were incredibly talented. Both were men who helped me to love movies. Both I miss for never getting to see their work again.

Hoffman has been a fixture since my late adolescence when I gained awareness and interest in movies. I probably met him in “Twister,” but I fell in love with him as an actor in “Magnolia,” which is one of my favorite films to this day. And his performances in “Capote,” “Synecdoche, New York” and “The Master” are among the best of the past decade. But these only scratch the surface of his work, with more than 60 credits as an actor according to IMDB.

Much of the 24-hour news cycle has focused on the details of Hoffman’s death as much or more than it has on his life and craft. I’m not here to pass judgement. I’m fortunate to have never fought addiction personally, or in my immediate family. I can only hope that someone sees the death of a public figure like Hoffman as a wake-up call.

Writing this, much like reading other articles about Hoffman, has caused me to get a lump in my throat, thinking of the great body of work -- the part of his life that has so affected me -- he leaves behind. As I pour through essays reminding me of his notable work and best performances, I think about a chameleon of a man who embodied nothing less than brilliance. It’s heart-breaking that there will never be more than those 63 performances, but at least I’ll always have those to remember him by.

What I’m reading: It’s been a hectic week as I’ve been preparing for a move, so I’m still reading “Planetary.” And while not completely related, I’m terribly excited to see “The Lego Movie.” Maybe next week.


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