I wrote this in 2008, but it remains as true as ever. RIP to one of Hollywood’s finest actors.–from July 9, 2008
I love you, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
I love your three names, said in sequential order: Philip. Seymour. Hoffman.
I love how your middle name (or second name?) is the name of Steve Buscemi’s character in Ghost World. I also love Steve Buscemi, but that is another post for another time.
I loved you the moment I saw you, as “Lester Bangs” in 2000′s Almost Famous. I used to be the type of girl that fell for Billy Crudup’s sexy rock-stud character “Russell Hammond.” But Philip, that was the year 2000. We thought the world was going to end. I was young, naive, infatuated by girlie neo-rockstars. You know, girlie-men. But it is now 2008. 8 whole years have passed. I am more mature and more aware that there are more lonely, grouchy has-been Lester Bangs in the world than there are handsome yet unattainable Russell Hammonds.I think that is your appeal. You are the Everyman, if such a phrase were accurate. You are no Jude Law, no Clive Owen, and least of all, Bradley Pitt-Jolie. You’re chubby, grubby, tubby, and have no problem inhabiting roles that are perverse, sleazy if you will (one thinks of your role as the obsessed pervert in 1998′s Happiness or 2004′s Along Came Polly–there is not a soul who could forget that shirtless and oh so sweaty basketball scene where Ben Stiller gets a face-full of your manly perspiration). You have a low, gruff voice that somehow miraculously changed to the high-pitched Southern trill of Truman Capote. You were the absolute best part of an otherwise dull Charlie Wilson’s War. You are–dare I say it–a surprisingly sexy Hollywood star (and not in the otherworldly Johnny Depp sense but in the so-talented-you-can’t-help-but-notice-it Philip Seymour Hoffman sense. You are your own category, Philip).
In Saturday’s A & E section of The Hamilton Spectator, there was a feature on unattractive male actors with enormous appeal. You were there, Philip, among the likes of Ron Perlman and Benicio del Toro (who I think is quite handsome in a conventional sense despite those dark circles under his eyes). I was pleased to see you there, despite the feminist in me being a tad annoyed at the double standard there is for unattractive stars. There is practically no such thing as an unattractive female star; even the ones with good acting “chops” (Kidman, Blanchett, Hayek, Witherspoon, Cruz) are noticeably more attractive than the ordinary earthling.
But you, Philip . . . you could be the over-sized and unemployed slouch at the drive-thru of Tim Hortons. You could be the high school math teacher with an embarrassing and epic perspiration problem. You could be Uncle Phil, smelling of tobacco and good spirits, taking nephew Jimmy out back to practice shooting the BB gun. I pass hundreds of Philip Seymour Hoffmans every day, driving their work pick-up trucks, loitering on the bench in front of the post office flicking cigarette butts at the street, giving the old “well well well” to anything in a skirt. You’re so human and transparent, it’s delicious.
You know what else? I just finished reading Elizabeth Hay’s Late Nights on Air which is a really good read about a small Yellowknife radio station in the 1970s. The lead character of Harry Boyd? As soon as the character was described, I cast you in his role in the movie version. Even though it’s a Canadian book, and, should it be turned into a movie, should cast Canadian actors, I cannot see anyone else but you as Harry Boyd–a character so real and flawed and . . . you.
I will let you play a Canadian. That’s how much I love you.