Did people just rush to their laptops seconds after Philip Seymour Hoffman's death to put out their "greatest performances" lists? I understand writing for publications like Indie wire & Huffington Post require that you churn out work fairly quickly but geez... Was I the only one who felt like some critics & bloggers already had their write-ups & dedications for Hoffman ready to go a little too fast? In my opinion, making any kind of a list that chronicles and/or pays homage to a career that spans two decades should require some kind of deep thought & reflection and I don't see how that could be done in 20 minutes.
So instead of naming off Hoffman's greatest performances and adding to the pile of almost identical lists that you've already seen on the Internet over the past few weeks, I'll give you a rundown of how many times Philip Seymour Hoffman came up in conversation organically in my day to day life (in just a little over a month) prior to his death, which, in my opinion, is the best way to show how great of an actor he was and how much he affected a common cinephile like me.
January 6th 2014
So for the majority of January I spent a decent amount of time looking at stills of Hoffman from Happiness, trying to get the right screen grabs to use for my future blog entry which should be ready at some point in April or May...
January 26th 2014While hanging out at my studio with a buddy of mine, we got in to a conversation about underrated performances by great actors and Hoffman's name eventually came up. To my surprise, he'd never seen or heard of Paul Thomas Anderson's feature film debut Hard 8. Naturally I had to pull up his one scene from that film on YouTube and as I imagined, he was enthralled by Hoffman's hilariously obnoxious performance as the nameless craps player...
Various points in January 2014I know this sounds weird, but I sometimes work out to movie clips on YouTube instead of music (and yes, people working out next to me often look over my shoulder with curiosity). Two of the clips on heavy rotation are Hoffman's breakdown in Before The Devil Knows You're Dead and the "SHUT UP!" scene from Punch Drunk Love. I must have watched these scenes at least three times each in January while working out on the elliptical at New York Sports Club.
February 1st 2014
My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of having dinner with Lelia Goldoni recently. While hanging out with John Cassavetes' iconic actress, we discussed everything from movies & the public school system to race & religion. At some point in the conversation the subject of a certain faith-based organization founded by a controversial sub-par science fiction writer came up. Naturally I inquired if Lelia had seen Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (a film that's loosely based on the aforementioned organization). She hadn't, but when I mentioned that Hoffman portrayed a character loosely based on the said real life controversial writer, she quickly replied: "Oh, I Love him!"
I wouldn't be able to live with myself right now if I referred to Philip Seymour Hoffman as the greatest actor of our generation. I don't remember too many people saying that about him when he was alive so it feels weird saying it now (I'm willing to bet had someone like Daniel Day Lewis or Denzel Washington passed away instead of Hoffman everyone would be saying the same exact thing about one of them instead). I don't even know if he's one of my personal favorite actors. But I do know his presence played a huge part in my movie watching since the late 90's so I felt slightly obligated to write a lil' something about him