Remembering Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Arguably one of Hollywood’s finest actors and directors, Philip Seymour Hoffman died on Feb. 8 of an alleged drug overdose in his Manhattan apartment. He was 46.

Hoffman got his start acting in minor roles. He made his first screen debut in the first season of “Law and Order” in 1991. In the same year, he made his first cinematic debut in “Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole,” in which he played the role of Klutch. This would be the first of many independent film performances for Hoffman.

Through his minor roles in “The Big Lebowski” and “Boogie Nights,” Hoffman made a name for himself in Hollywood. These successes lead to his first leading role in the 2002 film “Love Liza.” While Hoffman loved the opportunity of his first leading role, “there was no role too big or small for him,” as McDaniel Cinema professor, Richard Brett states.

Hoffman made this clear in a 2002 interview with the Daily Telegraph, stating, “Even if I was hired into a leading-man part, I’d probably turn it into the non-leading-man part.” The quality of turning a leading-man part to a non-leading-man part could have been the key to Hoffman’s success.

As McDaniel Cinema Professor, Jonathan Slade states, “He had the ability to take small roles in television and small roles in film, and sort of turn them into something more than what they were in just about every role he took. He brought a depth and nuance that many other actors could not. I do not think that he ever took a role and looked at it as a small role, even if it was a couple scenes as a character actor. He would always bring something to it, that the audience would walk out and remember who that guy was.”

Hoffman’s later leading roles included his 2005 appearance in “Capote,” in which he portrayed American author Truman Capote. His work in this movie would also earn recognition in Hollywood. Hoffman won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance of a Male Actor in a Leading Role, a Critics Choice Award, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and his first Oscar nomination. He would go on to win his first and only Oscar award in 2006, for Best Male Actor in a Leading role for “Capote.”

While Hoffman, did not win any other Oscar’s he was nominated three other times as the Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the films, “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007), “Doubt” (2008) and “The Master” (2012).

Hoffman was not only an accomplished actor; he was also a director. He directed a feature-film adaptation of the off-Broadway play, “Jack Goes Boating” in 2010. The Hollywood Reporter announced a few days before his death that Hoffman was set to direct his second film, “Ezekial Moss,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams.

In addition to his already stellar resume, Hoffman was also a stage actor and director. He starred in and directed many Broadway plays. Three of his most memorable plays, in which he both acted and directed, include: “True West,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “Death of a Salesman.” He earned Tony Award nominations for all three.

Hoffman’s most recent roles include “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2”, the final movie in the The Hunger Games series, in which he played Plutarch Heavensbee. He was filming this movie at the time of his death. He also participated in the 2013 sequel to the Hunger Games, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”. This was his only role in 2013.

While Hollywood is mourning the loss of one its shining stars, Hoffman’s family is also mourning. Hoffman is survived by his long-time partner, Mimi O’Donnell, his three children, Cooper, Talluah, and Willa, as well as many friends and family members. Gone too soon with a decade’s of work in the film industry, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s legacy will live on through his respectable filmography.