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Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

Categories: Celebrities, Featured, Movies

Philip Seymour HoffmanOscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in New York on Sunday. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

He was the everyman whom you couldn't take your eyes off. He was the consummate chameleon. He was an actor with a force of will, a sense of purpose and who inhabited his roles "with every fibre of his being."

To lose such an artist at the age of 46 is tragedy on many levels: for his family, for the three children he left behind and for the future performances we his fans will never see.

The difficulty with picking one's favourite Philip Seymour Hoffman roles is that fact that he often elevated whichever movie in which he appeared, from the spittle-spewing villain of MI3 to the slippery confidence of Doubt's Father Flynn.

Hoffman himself once said: "In 80 years, no one I'm seeing now will be alive. Hopefully, the art will remain."

Here are a few places to start.

Almost Famous

The rock 'n' roll raconteur and gonzo journalist Lester Bangs is certainly one of Hoffman's best roles. His rallying cry for the uncool is a classic: "Good-looking people they got no spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we're smarter."

Charlie Wilson's War

Hoffman's performance as rogue CIA operative Gust Avrakotos could best be described by the phrase: "Caution: contents under pressure." Just imagine being John Slattery on the receiving end of the above barrage.

The Master

As the sly and seductive philosopher Lancaster Dodd, Hoffman is part car salesman, part Svengali. He had the easy charisma as well as the patience to bring this character to life. It was the latest in his string of collaborations with filmmaker friend Paul Thomas Anderson.

Synecdoche, New York

"Death comes faster than you think."

Writer-director Charlie Kaufman's story about a theatre director consumed by his own art seemed particularly close to Hoffman's own soul — perhaps it was the wry comedic sensibility, the inherent sadness or the character's relentless sense of exploration. He was always questioning, always pushing further.

At one point Kaufman's character, Caden Cotard, complains: "I don't know why I make it so complicated."

The answer: "Because that's what you do."

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