Monday, February 3, 2014


It was miserable to learn, on Super Bowl Sunday, of the death, at 46, of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The word “great” gets thrown around a little too liberally in popular criticism, and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this, but I mean it when I say that Hoffman was a great actor. Just a day or two before he passed on I had been thinking about how oddly lovable he was as Art Howe in 2011’s Moneyball, and what a top-notch artist he was.

Hoffman will be remembered for his star turns in high dramas like Capote and The Savages and Doubt, and rightly so. But I think I, and probably many other movie lovers, may treasure his eccentric, vibrant supporting parts in stuff like Charlie Wilson’s War and Nobody’s Fool and Boogie Nights and The Big Lebowski and, especially, as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous even more. He had much more great acting in him—he should have lived to old age, and become one of those indestructible character actors like Olivier or Gielgud or Morgan Freeman, who just keep showing up and making stupid action and sci-fi movies worth sitting through. The loss is infuriating and heartbreaking.