Once Philip Seymour Hoffman first registered on my radar screen (as Scotty in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights), it seemed as if he never disappeared from my thoughts for long, rather showing up in small roles or large ones. Hoffman's death at 46 takes a talented actor away from us far too soon, but some demons just win in the end.
Boogie Nights marked Hoffman's second film with Anderson following Hard Eight. They would team again in Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and The Master, which earned Hoffman an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor, his fourth overall. He also received supporting nods for Doubt and Charlie Wilson's War and won on his first try, his only nomination in the lead category, for Capote.
Though his film career only began in 1991, it proved to prolific. Once his fame and reliability grew, even if some of the films he appeared in weren't so great, I never saw him give a bad performance. A cattle call of some of my favorite Hoffman performances: Happiness, The Talented Mr. Ripley, 25th Hour, The Savages, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Moneyball and The Ides of March.
The performance perhaps closest to my heart was his turn as legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. I also loved his work in two less well-known films: Owning Mahowny and Jack Goes Boating, a role he originated in the off-Broadway production and he also directed the film.
He appeared on Broadway three times and received a Tony nomination each time. His first came in the inaugural Broadway production of Sam Shepard's True West, where he and John C. Reilly alternated the lead roles at different performances. He earned a featured actor nod in the star-studded, highly praised revival of O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night starring Brian Dennehy and Vanessa Redgrave. His third nomination came for taking on Willy Loman in a revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.
RIP Mr. Hoffman.