Philip Seymour Hoffman and his untimely death has made headlines across the world and in the sense that the surprising news of his demise has stunned fans of the actor, it feels almost like Paul Walker revisited. Both men were well known; Walker for the Fast & Furious film franchise and his philanthropic philosophy and Hoffman for his powerhouse acting skills. The news that Hoffman had been found dead in his Greenwich Village apartment with a needle in his arm, the apparent victim of an overdose, has shocked the Hollywood community.
In a sense the 46 year-old Hunger Games star could be seen as the thinking man’s actor. Hoffman specialized in giving performances where he seemed to be in the skin of the character that he portrayed. The actor immersed himself in whatever role he played, whether it was in the small role of Scotty J. the lovelorn gay boom operator in the 1997 film Boogie Nights or as the cult leader Lancaster Dodd in the 2012 film The Master.
Paul Walker’s fame was arguably earned more by appearing in one of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster franchises. The wildly popular Fast & Furious films enjoy mega box office success and Walker’s role as fan favorite Brian O’Conner launched his career into heights that would have taken the actor much longer to attain had it not been for the success of F&F. A more than capable actor Walker had reached almost legendary status by the time he died as the result of a single car crash on November 30, 2013.
Thousands of fans, colleagues and friends were stunned by the sudden death of the 40 year star which occurred when a Porsche driven by close friend and business partner Roger Rodas crashed at speed into a couple of trees and a light pole on a Valencia, California street. The outpouring of grief from all who were affected by his untimely end filled the Internet and newspapers for weeks after the event. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, with its unexpected suddenness feels a little like Paul Walker revisited.
Celebrities have expressed their dismay at the alleged drugs overdose that killed a brilliant actor well before his time. Twitter has been inundated with tweeted pictures of the recently deceased actor along with fans who list their favorite Hoffman role or film. As one Twitter fan put it, “A lot of death feels sad, #PhilipSeymourHoffman feels like a robbery.”
The actor suffered, apparently, from an addictive personality. In the 1980’s Hoffman was addicted to alcohol and by the time he was 22 he had kicked the booze habit because “he scared himself sober.” Sadly the same could not be said for the drugs he turned to. In 2006, during an interview on CBS, the actor spoke of his problems with drug abuse and that he “used anything he could” get hold of.
There is perhaps the biggest difference between the two men in a nutshell. Walker was more of a “star” than Hoffman. Personal charisma combined with an almost innate likeability, along with being a regular in one of the most successful blockbuster series imaginable made Walker a worldwide star who used his fame to help his fellow man. The Fast & Furious star was a capable actor, but, not on the same level as Seymour Hoffman.
Hoffman was a genius at making his roles come to living breathing life. His fame came not from being in Hollywood blockbuster films, he appeared in either “fringe” productions or independent films. The amount of films that could be classified as “big budget” Hollywood mechanized films were small compared to the more niche and eclectic films Hoffman worked in. Mission Impossible III and the Hunger Games franchise were more in keeping with the calibre of film that could be classified as a blockbuster.
The versatile actor got his start in the theater and it showed in his dedication to bringing his roles to complete fruition on screen and on stage. The award winning actor; he won an Oscar for his 2005 performance of Truman Capote in the film Capote; won a total of 73 awards and was nominated a further 54 times in the world of film alone. He was nominated 12 times for his work in the theater.
While it is not known what drug killed Philip Seymour Hoffman; he had gone to rehab in 2013 because of an ongoing drug abuse problem which included snorting heroin; his shocking, and unexpected death does feel like Paul Walker revisited. Both actors died before finishing work in a film that was part of a franchise. It has been reported that Hoffman still had roughly seven days of shooting left to do. It has been said that the filmmakers have not addressed how they will handle his demise and the unfinished scenes in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Hoffman, like Walker will be missed by his fans, friends and colleagues.
By Michael Smith