The screen lights up.
We see people emerge. A lazy stoner, mistaken by thugs for a millionaire who has the same name as him, seeks resolution. He goes to confront the millionaire. He first meets his personal assistant. Enter a peculiar character with a timid presence, a memorable personality. He speaks with jest and jolts, nervous with formality, his mannerisms calculated and his speech definite and natural. The actor is good.
But you wouldn’t notice he was one by his appearance. He had wise eyes, like an old uncle’s, no particular jaw structure, and was a bit overweight. Not your typical Bogart. But he did the job alright.
The next year, he’s a transsexual stuck with Robert De Niro and a male nurse listening to a dying Jason Robards’s wisdom. This cannot be the same person. Before I can think twice, he transforms into a eccentric music critic guiding a young man and a mattress salesman scamming Adam Sandler. His weight, hair, style, his entire personality changes. Who is this man and what is he doing?
He was Philip Seymour Hoffman. And he was acting. Or rather, undergoing a metamorphosis.
Born in 1967, in New York, USA, he graduated with a BFA degree in drama. But he grew up to be Capote, Lester Bangs, Art Howe, Father Flynn, Willy Loman, Lanchester Dodd, Gust, Scott and Allen. He was a man who had talent, to say the least, like crackling fire, determination for the perfection of the art form, and heart to carry a film no matter the size of the role.
I have no right in judging him by his addictions and in no way will I correlate them with his morals. What I do know is that after becoming an Oscar winner, a millionaire and a well-renowned actor with much acclaim by critics and colleagues, when he was asked by a friend if he was having any luck in acting, he replied
I’m in a film, cold mountain, that has just come out
He gave us an endless range of emotions. He went far to portray the worst in his characters and showed us a method of acting so deep that generations of audiences will be inspired.
I always like to remember Hoffman with this scene from Synecdoche, New York with its immense relevance. And finally I salute PSH for the lion of acting he was.