Philip Seymour Hoffman had pretty much settled into one of the top tier actors of his generation. I shouldn’t even hedge: he WAS one of the great actors of his generation, arguably at the very top. His trick was making it look easy, so the other guys get that recognition. The flashy players stand out. But Hoffman was sublime each and every time out. He brought A-game to things like “Along Came Polly,” for Christ’s sake.
And now he’s gone?? I can’t even begin to register that. That’s a punch right in the stomach.
Hoffman’s credentials speak for themselves. Oscar-nominated for “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Doubt” and “The Master.” A winner for “Capote,” which brought perception of his abilities to a whole other level. But he was an even keel of consistency every step of the way. “Boogie Nights,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Happiness,” “Flawless,” “Magnolia,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Almost Famous,” “Punch-Drunk Love,” “25th Hour” – I’m just typing out every single film at this point – “Red Dragon,” the immensely underrated “Owning Mahowny,” “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” even “Mission: Impossible III,” he’s bringing it. “The Savages,” “The Ides of March,” “Moneyball,” on and on and on and on.
The truly great work? “Capote.” “Synechdoche, New York.” “The Master.” “Almost Famous.” These are his gifts to our love of the form. I saw him for the first time in “Twister” and knew I was hooked.
The guy was 46 years old. He had three kids. He should still be here.
Anton Corbijn’s “A Most Wanted Man” is still on the way (having premiered at Sundance) and I’ve been very much looking forward to it. Ditto “God’s Pocket.” There are also a pair of “Hunger Games” sequels, though who knows if he was finished with his work on the final installment. (He was set to star in the television series “Happyish,” which Showtime just picked up last month.) So he’ll be with us for a short time longer, on screens big and small. But after that, it’s just the memories above. And what wonderful memories they are.
I assume more details on all of this will be forthcoming in due time, but at the moment, all we know, according to The Wall Street Journal, is the New York Police Department is investigating and they have confirmed that Hoffman was found dead in his apartment this afternoon.
Sadness. Profound sadness. We lost a treasure in his prime here.
UPDATE: CNN is now reporting that Hoffman was found “with a needle in his arm” and that law enforcement says it was an apparent drug overdose. Furthermore, The New York Times quotes an official on that, also noting in addition that “investigators found…envelope containing what is believed to be heroin.”