Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead

Philip-Seymour-HoffmanMulti-talented actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46, died an unsavory death today:  alone in his bathroom, with a needle in his arm, presumably of a drug overdose.  He leaves behind a woman he never married, and three children, ages 10 and under, who will grow up without their father.  It’s a great loss to his children and the arts community mourns.

I will not regret a future without Hoffman in movies.  I acknowledge his talent.  But no matter what role he played, I was always aware of the man behind the character, and the man creeped me out.  I can’t articulate what it was about him I found so off-putting.  I know only that, if he had been a classmate or colleague of mine, I would have done anything possible to avoid him.  Given his popularity, I was obviously picking up on something  no one else saw, but to my mind, he was, in a word, unsavory.  Or another word, unappetizing.  No matter his talent, I felt a sense of revulsion watching him and would make any and every effort to avoid be trapped in front of a screen with him on it.  I know my response wasn’t rational, but I had that irrational response every time.

Given all that, it doesn’t surprise me at all to learn that, tragically, he was once a heroin addict and that, after years of staying clean, he ran back to that drug and it killed him.  I actually thought all along that he was an active drug user.  As I said, there was just that . . . something.

His youthful, wasted death is a tragedy for his long-time partner, for his children, for his friends, and for those who found genuine delight in watching him.  I am genuinely sorry for their loss.


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  • jj

    Funny you should say that.  You are not the only one who picked up on it: a lot of people couldn’t stand him, me among them.  A singularly off-putting sort of guy, no matter what he was playing.

  • bizcor

    I was not a fan either…. I tolerated him in “Scent of a Woman” and “Money Ball” because he played the antagonist.

  • sabawa

    My first thought was for his children……no dad.  It didn’t have to be this way.  He wasn’t hit by a car or mugged.  I don’t know much about addiction.   Why start?  I don’t know?  Hoffman  always looked in need of a bath…..I guess he needed a lot more than that.

  • Libby

    Yeah, Hoffman reminded me a lot of a former colleague of mine who has been overindulging in alcohol, drugs, and food for all of his adult life. Had the same slovenly appearance, the same sort of forced, creepy charm that enabled him to keep getting invited to the parties where drugs were available, or to get people to assist him when he inevitably needed assistance getting out of a situation. 

  • 11B40

    Growing up in the Bronx of the ’50s and ’60s led to some up close but not personal experiences with heroin addiction.

    The first was a Saturday morning when my father and I were driving through Harlem to go boating with one of his work buddies. Stopped at a red light, I saw a Negro man on the corner sitting on an imaginary chair, largely disheveled, in a pair of well-soiled khakis. That, my father explained, was what heroin would do to you. He referred to it as “nodding”.

    The next significant experience was a passing basketball acquaintance with a heroin addict who was kind enough to explain to me that he “didn’t have a drug problem”, he had “a money problem” because if he “had the money he could find the drugs”.

    Next on my list of heroin hits was the addict who, when told of another addict’s overdose death, inquired, “Where did he cop?” not wanting to miss the opportunity to get some more powerful than usual drugs.

    Finally, there was the overall contribution of heroin addicts and their supply chains in the destruction of large swaths of the Bronx, a kind of Dresden-lite treatment if you like, during the “60s and ’70s.
    I’ve long thought that heroin addiction was a quest for death in a Freudian (that Austrian-speaking doctor from old Vienna) Thanatos subconscious kind of way.  Some addicts crave the meth or cocaine route of more intense living, but heroin users seem to me to want to withdraw from life with death being the fully successful state.  

  • Indigo Red

    Hoffman was just the kind of great actor I like. I know nothing of his personal life, his politics, his environmental stance, or his views on how toilet paper should be hung. I don’t know if he was gay or straight, married, single, or divorced. Until now, I didn’t even know his age. All I know is I like his work. A damn fine actor who’ll be missed. 

  • raymondjelli

    Hoffman had a weird smaller than life characteristic onscreen. The acting style sort of said this is Hoffman playing a role. He never disappeared into them. You always felt he was acting though not in a way you could put your finger on.  I think that was the off-putting part. He seemed to be more manipulating a character than disappearing into one.
    His portrayal of Art Howe in Moneyball was horribly unfair though a lot of that was the script. Still portraying a living person in that way was wrong especially since the other major characters were really composite characters of those in the book. In fact Art Howe does not really figure in Moneyball at all.
    Too bad PSH died before he got a chance to play Rob Ford. Obviously that was the role he was meant to play.

  • Ymarsakar

    <b>Given his popularity, I was obviously picking up on something  no one else saw, but to my mind, he was, in a word, unsavory.</b>
    Don’t you remember, Book? Serial killers, murderers, and rapists are very popular, amongst certain sub section of the population. And I’m not joking, there are like dating lists for cons, that’s what they get sent fan mail too.
    Crazy people have always produced an aura of fear amongst the normal cattle of humanity. That’s why human authorities often hunted the abnormal down as monsters and threats. In modern day, prison and Hollywood makes it seem like excitement can be had without the danger component, where the beasts are safely held behind bars and the movie screen.
    Not very far, yet not as close as they wish.
    <B>I know my response wasn’t rational, but I had that irrational response every time.</b>
    Gut reactions in martial arts are considered the advanced usage of survival instincts. It doesn’t need a reason. Human is a rationalizing animal. Animals that survive purely on instinct, have no need for rationales. It just is.

  • Freddie Sykes

    I only saw him as a character actor in supporting roles. Some were tailored made for him: the lost Lester Banks in Almost Famous ( Director’s Cut ), one mad man among many in Twister ( love Bill Paxton ) and the traitorous underling in the dark comedy Montana ( NSFW language but what a cast!).
    I have an addictive personality but, lucky me, as I found out after surgery, natural opiates make he hurl for days on end.