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Philip Seymour Hoffman: Might Mean Nothing To You


“Where were you when [Michael Jackson/Heath Ledger/John Lennon/Elvis] died?” ~ Mainstream Media

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s autopsy revealed that he died of a mix of toxic chemicals, including heroine, cocaine, amphetamines, and¬†benzodiazepine.

There have been tons of articles floating around since news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death hit the media. Most of these articles centered around addiction. Addicts have been speaking up to remind all of us of their plight. They’ve been reminding us how even a giant like Mr Hoffman can be brought down by a single sip, hit, or toke. Addiction has long been a silent killer, a monster we’re all vaguely aware of, but unwilling to look at. I have no problem with these people speaking up about this issue. Addiction has long been a problem we’ve mostly dismissed as affecting only the poor, or the weak-willed.¬†But I am not an addict, nor am I any kind of expert on the subject.

The Usual Suspects:

After celebrity deaths, I usually loathe to participate in the public show of mourning. It always seemed more like an attempt by people to link themselves to a historical event than genuine sorrow. It always seemed to me that if you did know personally know the deceased, it was mildly insulting to their friends and family to act as if, you too, were as upset as they are.

So why have I been so upset since he passed away? I certainly never met Mr Hoffman. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been in the same city as him.

I am a serious-minded actor, but lots of my favorite actors have died without me feeling this lost.

I think that’s the quality PSH that made us all love his work so much; you never quite figured him out, but damnit you knew you liked him. He brought every part of himself onto the screen and stage with him. All his loathing, all his loving, all his ugly, all his pain. I remember seeing him for the first time in Boogie Nights, and just feeling awash in all his misery, just by looking at him.

He brought so much of himself into each and every part, that you felt like you knew him; you felt he was sharing something with you. You felt like you were personally invited to share in a special moment with him. It was no wonder Hollywood wanted to cast him in EVERYTHING. He just made everything look so goddamn legitimate. Even if the rest of the film wasn’t working, he would solidify the project with a scene, or a line, or just a moment where he wasn’t even doing anything.

He brought so much humanity to everything he touched.

Many Perceptions:

I had no idea he was an addict when I read the news of his death. Perhaps that was has me so unsettled. Most of his characters where suffering. Maybe what made him such a good actors was him knowing that he could do something good with all of his pain. Maybe he found the use for all of his doubt and self-inflicted misery: that he could show us what it meant to be human.

There are many fine ways to die, drug overdose is not one of them.

Whenever one of my idols dies that way, it makes it seem like the only way to be artistically brilliant is to suffer your entire life, to fight against your demons, day-by-day, constantly vigilant against the day that you allow them to beat you, all alone in your home, feeling like there’s no one who can save you from yourself.

Artists are the people who have to showcase life. Mr Hoffman did that beautifully, no one can argue that. He’ll leave behind one of the greatest legacies an actor has ever left.

I only wish he had the chance to see himself the way so many of us see him.


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