There will forever be a hole in Hollywood

Zac Younkins

Zac Younkins

Zac Younkins

When a true visionary passes away, even someone you don’t know on a personal level, the entire world suffers. Ever since studying acting at a young age, I looked for individuals in Hollywood who were doing something more than just reading lines and cashing oversized checks. Phillip Seymour Hoffman always stood out for his commitment and transformative capabilities.

Hoffman blew me away with his stand-out performances in “Boogie Nights,” “Charlie Wilson’s War” and of course the award-winning role of “Capote.” He seamlessly chameleoned into these characters, bringing the words of copious writers to life, making it so much more than just ink on a page.

Many popular thespians, such as George Clooney and Robert Downey Jr., tend to transform roles into themselves, capitalizing on their own magnetic personalities, whereas Hoffman became the character. He was one of the few with the gift to do what all actors struggle to achieve — he effortlessly convinced audiences that these characters were not merely fiction.

We got choked up when he cursed himself for trying to kiss Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights, we marveled at the chemistry between he and Joaquin Phoenix in The Master, as well as his confident facade of sanity and power.

Those lucky enough to have seen his Broadway portrayal of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman have been left speechless. As Steve Martin tweeted in reaction to the death of the Academy Award Winner, “If you missed him as Willy Loman, you missed a Willy Loman for all time.”

In 2007’s The Savages and Jack Goes Boating, we saw the deeply personal and emotion side of Hoffman. It seeped into the films, so real and relatable that you’re bound to find yourself holding back tears. 1999’s Flawless has Hoffman as a drag queen tasked with rehabilitating a bigot and stroke victim played by Robert De Niro. Predicting a serious recurring theme of today’s mainstream media, the film had a simple but passionate message of learning to accept individuals in the LGBT community. Something could certainly be said for Hoffman’s passion and high standards in selecting roles.

In one of his most groundbreaking and critically acclaimed roles was Todd Solondz’s Happiness. The film examines the harsh reality of depression and the depravity of the human mind in a group of unrelated people. Hoffman’s character was a chronic masturbator who made obscene calls to random numbers from the phone book. His frustration with life and compellingly depressing love story has confused audiences since its release and gained monumental praise from critics.

Hoffman even shows his prowess for comedy in Ben Stiller’s Along Came Polly and the true story of maritime DJ’s in the ‘60s Pirate Radio.

I sat in my apartment the night of his death watching Almost Famous, remembering the passion the film had for music and journalism and how true and absolutely inspiring Lester Bang’s dialogue was to artists. These two lines will always ring true:

“Great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love.”

“We’re uncool. And while women will always be a problem for us, most of the great art in the world is about that very same problem. Good-looking people don’t have any spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we’re smarter.”

Hoffman inspired every actor who saw his work. There might not be a single working actor who compares to his vast talent, and certainly not a soul who could replace him.

Contact Zac Younkins at [email protected]