Essays · Features and Columns

Fade Out: Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967–2014)

By  · Published on February 2nd, 2014

It is with tremendous sadness that I report that one of our generation’s greatest actors has left the world’s stage. Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment this morning, allegedly from a drug overdose but that hasn’t been exactly confirmed. The Oscar-winning actor had spoken about substance abuse in the past, and had long been sober until very recently. Earlier this year he went through detox for the relapse, and if the claims are true about the cause of death then this is an especially upsetting end to his struggle with addiction. Our hearts go out to his family and friends, including his three young children.

Hoffman was one of my favorite actors, and I’m sure he was that of many of our readers, as well. He an immensely talented method performer who could balance all kinds of roles in all kinds of movies. Even with his distinct physical appearance he could play as varied characters as Truman Capote in Capote, for which he won the Academy Award, Caden Cotard in Synechdoche, New York, and Lancaster Dodd in The Master, all geniuses with very dissimilar personalities. And he wasn’t against appearing in a blockbuster, either. If anything, he elevated such fare as Mission: Impossible III and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

As always with a talent lost too soon, one of the hardest parts is letting go of the what ifs, the wondering what more he could have done, how many more indies and studio releases alike would have been obligatory movies for all of us who loved him consistently for the past 20 years.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.