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Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

At Cinema Chords we were all deeply shocked and saddened to hear that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had passed away.

Like seemingly much of the rest of the world our primary reaction was just sheer disbelief, the sadness not immediately hitting home, but rather taking a while to sink in.

The actor died last night after an apparent heroin overdose in his New York apartment. His past battle with drugs in his youth has been discussed openly by the actor – a battle which resulted in a sober period which lasted for twenty-three years until last year when he checked himself into rehab. This rehab period was believed to have been effective with Seymour Hoffman returning to work soon after, which only adds to the tragic shock felt around the world yesterday.

I set out to write a list of the actor’s five greatest performances, but in all honesty I have struggled and failed under the weight of his body of work. I haven’t seen every performance by him, I can’t in good faith make a judgement about his lifetime of work on such an occasion without being completely honest, and I just don’t know how to go about breaking down his career into a list of great performances. What I do know is that Philip Seymour Hoffman left his mark on me when I watched Magnolia several years ago. I imagine that I had seen some of his work before, but it was when I sat down to watch this one that he made me take note. His performance eclipsed practically all of the others in that film, including that of my favourite actress, and was one of the major reasons that that film has over time become one of great personal importance to me. Philip Seymour Hoffman did in this film what he so often succeeded at doing, and that’s making a character who is relatable and human; and that’s in his successes, struggles and his insecurities.

I’m not going to list loads of his great performances over the years, we all know that there are many and that his contribution to cinema history is as vast as it is deep. He was an extraordinary actor who will be greatly missed by all of us who love film. Our thoughts at this time are with his family, his friends and all of those touched by his work.


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