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Opinion: Tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman dims a true star of cinema

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment Feb. 2. He was 46. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment Feb. 2. He was 46.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

The stars of Hollywood shine a little dimmer today as the world still processes the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead in his Manhattan apartment Sunday.

Hoffman was the definition of a workaholic, contributing his talent and believability to so many classic films over the years, including the hilarious “Along Came Polly” (2004) and the gripping drama “Doubt” (2008). In fact, it is difficult to pinpoint which of his performances was his best.

Younger audiences might recognize him more readily from the most recent installment of “The Hunger Games” franchise in which he played rebel gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. Hoffman was signed on to reprise his role for the two-part ending of the series at the time of his death, according to IMDb.

The loss of this immensely talented actor is truly saddening, as he hails from a generation of performers who have consistently stunned audiences with their ability to bring a script to life. Actors like Julia Roberts and Ben Stiller, to name a few, have stood the test of time cinematically and remain immortalized by their work.

I can’t help but think of James Gandolfini, who was similarly lost all too soon last summer, in this situation. Hoffman, alongside Gandolfini, has left a huge hole in the film industry, and his shoes will be impossible to fill.

Hoffman was 46 when he was found dead, and the cause of death has not yet been determined. However, a syringe was found in his arm at the scene along with two plastic envelopes, which appeared to be filled with heroin, and five empty envelopes in a trash bin, according to The New York Times. Hoffman admitted to struggling with addiction at the age of 22 in a 2006 interview with “60 Minutes.” In 2013, he checked into a rehabilitation program for 10 days to treat a reliance on prescription pills that led to a brief use of heroin, after not having used the drug for years.

What makes Hoffman’s death all the more inconceivable is the suddenness of it. The man just premiered “God’s Pocket” and “A Most Wanted Man,” and, as previously mentioned, was set to play an integral role in both parts of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.” The actor’s career was in full swing, and he showed no signs of stopping anytime soon. It’s heartbreaking, a bad dream that we can’t wake up from.

Celebrities from all facets of the entertainment industry have publicly expressed their mourning. From Chelsea Clinton to Whoopi Goldberg, the Twitter-verse is awash with shock and sadness.

“PSH – I am genuinely shocked, saddened and speechless. A truly wonderful man, with a magical touch. My hero. Thoughts are with his family,” tweeted Sam Claflin (@samclaflin), who worked with Hoffman on “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” at about 2 p.m. Sunday.

Hoffman’s talent touched many, and his death has rendered us without words to adequately express what he meant to cinema.

I, for one, will remember Hoffman for his inquisitive expressions, his ability to be ambiguous and starkly strong in character and his boyish charm and ease. I will remember his red-carpet glamour of untucked button-downs and baseball hats, and I will remember his iconic smirk.

A true star of the film industry, Hoffman’s mark on movies can never be erased. Once again we must ask, why must the good die young?

One comment

  1. Kathleen,

    Thank you for penning this article in memoriam of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the greatest actors of his generation. I understand how much pain you must be in as an admirer of his, because I am currently experiencing the same grief.

    However, I must comment on the way you approach his death through this article. First of all, I find it inappropriate that you label Mr. Hoffman as a “dimmed star” in your title – Mr. Hoffman is the farthest thing from “dimmed”. His many admirers and fans will make sure that, through his work, he continues to burn brightly.

    Second, I find lingering on the gruesome circumstances of his death in very bad taste. Emphasizing his disease and struggle with drugs by dedicating an entire paragraph to it can only muddle his reputation and cast a bad light on Mr. Hoffman. Frankly, your article sounds like a tabloid when you speak of his death. The Internet is throwing the circumstances of his death at us, and we need you to simply appreciate him as the artist he was.

    You also make some questionable comparisons: Ben Stiller and Julia Roberts are part of a completely different echelon of actors and actresses than Mr. Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman is a Best Actor Oscar winner for Capote (You fail to mention this film or award, which may be the biggest crime of the entire article) and is in an acting category completely of his own. Capote was his crowning glory (perhaps surpassed by 2012’s The Master, which you also neglected to mention) and is also an essential piece of American cinema. Mentioning Hunger Games multiple times and neglecting to include his wide array of critically-acclaimed works is disappointing in an opinion piece that claims to hail Mr. Hoffman’s acting skill.

    I hate to think that you are not an admirer of Mr. Hoffman, but simply a writer for the Lantern that wanted to take advantage of an article opportunity that was bound to rake in reads. I urge you to take the time to familiarize yourself with his filmography, his work on stage, and on television and realize why I took the time to express my frustration with your article.

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