Today’s tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman robbed the world of an actor generally agreed to be one of the finest of his generation. Seymour became the go-to guy for directors who wanted to lend some weight to their movie, whether it was an art-house movie looking to harness his extraordinary range, or a Hollywood blockbuster in need of some scenery-chewing theatrics. Hoffman has appeared in some of the best movies of the previous twenty years. Here are a few highlights of an illustrious career.
Scent Of A Woman (Martin Brest, 1992)
A supporting role as rich kid George Willis, Jr. put Hoffman onscreen alongside the mighty Al Pacino. Although his role in the movie is relatively small, it helped him to establish himself as a name in Hollywood.
Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)
Anderson and Hoffman have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship over the years, with both of them earning immense respect for their work on this movie about the 70s porn industry. His role as Scotty J, a gay man in love with star Dirk Diggler, was played with an eye-catching intensity. The movie’s cast earned a nomination for best ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild awards
Happiness (Todd Solondz, 1999)
Another ensemble piece, this low-budget black comedy secured Hoffman’s place as an indie darling. Hoffman plays a weirdo loner who is sexually harassing his neighbor, and has developed a disgusting alternative to Blu Tac.
Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)
His small but important role in this movie helped to pull Hoffman out of the arthouse. Hoffman plays the legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs, who appears at regular intervals to offer advice to the main character in Crowe’s nostalgic semi-autobiographical movie.
Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005)
By 2005, Philip Seymour Hoffman was a beloved and well-known character actor whose inclusion in any movie was generally seen as a seal of approval. However, he had few leading roles until this ambitious and vivid biopic of writer Truman Capote. The performance was universally lauded and finally earned Hoffman the Best Actor Oscar he so richly deserved.
Mission: Impossible III (JJ Abrams, 2006)
He then followed his Oscar with a throwaway action flick, adding a little bit of weight to Tom Cruises action franchise. Like most M:I movies this film did enormous box office, with Hoffman’s OTT villain entertained audiences all over the world.
Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
Kaufman’s directorial debut was eagerly anticipated, after he had produced some of the most mind-bendingly original scripts of recent years. The resulting movie left some viewers cold and most people baffled, although the ambition of the movie was widely praised.
Doubt (John Patrick Shanley, 2008)
If anything can be considered a test of an actor’s prowess, it must be this: playing opposite Meryl Streep in a Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Hoffman was more than up to the challenge, though, earning himself another Oscar nomination in the process.
The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
The Master saw Hoffman portraying the leader of a mysterious cult known as The Cause. Rumors around the movie suggested that his character was based on Scientology leader L. Ron Hubbard, but this was never confirmed. It was to be Hoffman’s final collaboration with Anderson before his death. It was also his final Oscar nomination and, while he didn’t win, he earned 17 other awards for his performance, including the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013)
Catching Fire was the last movie to star Philip Seymour Hoffman before his untimely death. While it may not end up being recalled as one of his best movies, it was the highest-grossing movie of 2013. Hoffman achieved that rare state of enormous critical and commercial success. He will be sorely missed, while audiences remember his 10 best movies of all time.
By Bernard O’Leary