Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman, model of versatility

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


pshoffmanblogThe fate of “The Hunger Games” franchise pales when compared with the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and elsewhere on the PG site you can find the obituary I wrote for  Hoffman. 
I was in Toronto when he and other “Capote” cast members did interviews and I once interviewed Catherine Keener for Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York” while Hoffman plopped down a few seats away in a restaurant and ate his lunch of a burger and fries. 
Keener laughed. “He knows I love working with him. You can listen, I don’t care. We got used to each other really quickly, and it just stayed that way.” 
I was in the press room of the Academy Awards the night he won his Oscar for “Capote” and he was among the winners who said their brains turned to mush (Paul Haggis, “Crash”) or porridge (Rachel Weisz, “The Constant Gardener”) or something similar. Hoffman said, “I was swimming in my head. ... I was lucky to get out what I got out.” 
The day before, at the Independent Spirit Awards, where he won, he confessed to being nervous speaking in front of people.  And he quelled any notions that he would be barking his Academy Award acceptance speech, should he win. He told a story on the talk-show rounds that, years ago, he promised a friend he would bark like a dog. 
“Everyone knows that that was a story from when I was 19 and really drunk. It’s a great story, though, isn’t it? You know my friend already called me and let me off the hook. He called me, ‘I officially let you off the hook for barking, but if you do bark, you’re my hero, and if I get a chance to go up there, I’ll meow.’ ”
Today, Lionsgate released a statement on the actor’s passing:  “Philip Seymour Hoffman was a singular talent and one of the most gifted actors of our generation. We’re very fortunate that he graced our Hunger Games family. Losing him in his prime is a tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Philip’s family.”
His passing raises questions about the franchise, given that the “Mockingjay” movies are being shot back to back. 
The Hollywood Reporter says director Francis Lawrence told the publication that after a Christmas break, the production would be shooting for three more months in Atlanta before heading to Europe for two additional months of shooting. 
THR says Hoffman had completed his work for Part 1 and had seven days remaining for Part 2 (a fact echoed by the Wall Street Journal). The Journal says one of his scenes in the final film will have to be rewritten with a different character taking the spot of Heavensbee. 
His death will not affect the announced release dates for the movies, Nov. 21, 2014, and Nov. 20, 2015. But let’s not forget the world lost a great actor and a woman lost her partner and their three children lost their dad today. 
Hoffman was not only accomplished but versatile. In January 2008, I wrote: Put Philip Seymour Hoffman's characters in a police lineup and they might -- might -- look like distant cousins but not the same man. 
Truman Capote, after all, little resembles Jon Savage, a bearded, shaggy-haired, slightly overweight Buffalo college professor whose living room is so stacked with books and papers that his sister jokes, "It looks like the Unabomber lives here."
He was a model of versatility coming off a fabulous fall and early winter.
Clean shaven, hair combed back and clad in suit and tie, Hoffman played a duplicitous, desperate real-estate broker plotting a holdup at his parents' jewelry store in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."
With the clock spun back to the early 1980s, he added a mustache and tinted glasses to channel Aliquippa native, University of Pittsburgh graduate and rogue CIA agent Gust L. Avrakotos in "Charlie Wilson's War."
Last to arrive, at least in Pittsburgh, was "The Savages," in which his life was as messy as his living room. Jon and his sister Wendy Savage discover their estranged father is about to be homeless in Arizona, is sinking into dementia and needs more care than they can provide. If that weren't enough, Jon's girlfriend is returning to Poland, and he ends up in makeshift traction after a tennis game. 


Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
More in this category: