Opinion: Remembering celebrated, iconic actor Philip Seymour Hoffman

Megan L. Brown is a junior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Megan Brown

The world of film lost a state-of-the-art individual this past week when Philip Seymour Hoffman, iconic actor and human being, passed away from an apparent drug overdose. Hoffman started acting in the early 1990s and went on to become one of the most beloved and talented actors of our time.

With roles such as Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” or his portrayal of Truman Capote in “Capote,” for which he won an Academy Award for his performance, you could see what a diverse and creative actor he was. Appreciation for his range of characters — whether it was in action franchises, biopics, romantic comedies or dramas — he was always pushing the limits and taking chances on characters.

Derek Thompson of The Atlantic said earlier this week that we know a Daniel Day-Lewis performance when we see it because it’s larger than life.  However, Hoffman “could puff himself up and play larger than life, but his specialty was to find the quiet dignity in life-sized characters — losers, outcasts and human marginalia.” And that’s just it — Hoffman brought life to his characters who weren’t always the cliché or average characters; he was different, and that’s what made him so profound in his work.

I’ve seen his work in “Almost Famous” and “Pirate Radio” dozens of times, and they never get old. I can sit and watch Hoffman be the outspoken, wise writer mentoring the young journalist, William, in “Almost Famous” just as I can watch him as The Count in “Pirate Radio,” giving the people of Great Britain the music of rock ‘n’ roll from a ship at sea.

In his dramatic roles in films like “Capote,” “Doubt” and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” we could see just how far he could go into the darker characters. Even if he was unhappy, you were always glad to see him onscreen. He even worked on Broadway in 2012, playing Will Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and delivered strongly throughout the play.

Hoffman left us too soon, being only 46. His death is still a shock to me, and I cannot yet overcome the loss of such an incredible actor who was one of the best. We knew he suffered from addiction after college and went into rehab for heroin addiction a couple of months ago, but we did not imagine this would happen.

I want people for generations to come to sit down and watch a Philip Seymour Hoffman film, basking in all his glory. Watch one that you’re unfamiliar with or watch a favorite over and over again, and appreciate all Hoffman did for film during his career. He was a legend and will continue to live on in many other talented actors of all genres. His films will continue to be classics,  and we will never forget the laughs and tears he gave us during his monumental career.