Philip Seymour Hoffman died. (As usual with notable deaths, I will likely update this post a few times as I find good links.)
From the New Yorker:
Work that’s only good is limited to its technique; when it’s great, a work is virtually inseparable from the artist’s life because it gives the sense of being the product of a whole life and being the absolute and total focus of that life at the time of its creation.
From the New York Times:
Mr. Hoffman does terminal uncertainty better than practically anyone.
From the Atlantic:
An actor this good at talking should not be so good at silence. An actor so good at silence shouldn’t be this good at talking. In the delicate art of negotiating rest stops, commanding crescendos, and unleashing fortes, there wasn’t a more precise conductor of performances than Hoffman.
Here’s the PSH scene I’ll always love the most. “Be honest. And unmerciful.”
From Death and Taxes:
Philip Seymour Hoffman belonged to a dying breed brave enough to let go of their own egos long enough to give us truly inspired, possessed performances. He can count Anthony Hopkins and Meryl Streep among his peers, and precious few others.
There was no actor, in our time, who more ably suggested that each of us is the sum of our secrets…no actor who better let us know what he knew, which is that when each of us returns alone to our room, all bets are off.
Here’s a New York Times Magazine profile from 2008 (which, admittedly, I haven’t read yet).
A.O. Scott’s tribute in the New York Times:
Mr. Hoffman’s way — not necessarily affiliated with any particular school or ideology, and above all the product of his own restless intelligence and relentless drive — took him further and deeper than most of his colleagues would be willing to venture.
The Economist on heroin:
We don’t know how to stop great artists from destroying themselves in one way or another. But we do have a good idea of how to stop more people from destroying themselves specifically with heroin injection, which has a higher fatality rate than most controlled substances. As with most drug problems, the solutions involve decriminalisation and universal access to treatment programmes, including alternative blocking drugs like methadone and buprenorphine. In the case of heroin, there is also another proven way to reduce harm: setting up safe injection rooms monitored by healthcare staff, and—for registered addicts who cannot or will not comply with treatment regimes—providing heroin itself for free.
While some people will likely call Hoffman an “actor’s actor” or a great “character actor,” I think he was something more. Hoffman was a student, and a teacher, of life. He was always studying, learning and seeking to understand what it meant to be human. And he took what he learned and extended it to us with every performance, teaching us about the perfect imperfections of what it means to be alive.
Cameron Crowe on my favourite PSH scene:
My original take on this scene was a loud, late night pronouncement from Lester Bangs. A call to arms. In Phil’s hands it became something different. A scene about quiet truths shared between two guys, both at the crossroads, both hurting, and both up too late. It became the soul of the movie.
David Carr‘s remembrance on Medium:
Covering entertainment means that you come across people whose faces you first saw 20-feet-tall on a movie screen. They tend to shrink when you meet them, but Mr. Hoffman was far from disappointing in person.
Denby in the New Yorker:
I can’t recall an occasion when people have been so upset—grief-struck, really, and also angry—over the death of an actor. Heath Ledger’s death was a shock, but he was so young that there were only a few performances to relish and replay in one’s head. Philip Seymour Hoffman has been around now for more than twenty years, and that voice is thoroughly embedded in our minds.
Aaron Sorkin in Time:
Phil Hoffman, this kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor, who was never outwardly “right” for any role but who completely dominated the real estate upon which every one of his characters walked, did not die from an overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.
PSH talking happiness with Simon Critchley.
The Master elevator farting outtake.
Anthony Lane in the New Yorker:
What have we been robbed of, by his death? Not so much a movie star, I think, as somebody who took our dramatic taxonomy—all those lazy, useful terms by which we like to classify and patronize our performers, even the best ones—and threw it away. Leading man, character actor, supporting player: really, who gives a damn? Either you hold an audience, so tight that it feels lashed to the seats, or you don’t.
n+1 on PSH and heroin and legacies and such:
From Hoffman’s behavior in the months leading up to his death, we know that he was seeking help and took his addiction seriously. “I’m a heroin addict,” is the way he introduced himself to a stranger at Sundance who asked Hoffman what he did for a living; onlookers confirmed that he appeared haggard and unrested. It’s also the way Hoffman introduced himself at the Narcotics Anonymous meetings he had been attending. Hoffman wasn’t in denial. He wasn’t shunning treatment. He wasn’t partying hard or “addicted to chaos,” as a contrite Lindsay Lohan admitted last year in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. He was addicted to heroin.