“Good riddance to another ‘star’ turned druggie… it seems to be part of the path to success.”
Under normal circumstances, my cynical self might have been inclined to agree with that sinister posting by one Joe Campbell on the Daily Mail’s website, were the person in question someone like your Lindsay Lohans, Charlie Sheens or Russell Brands.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, however, was far from the self-indulgent, hard-partying, unscrupulous sort who populate the celebrity scene. He was, as a close friend aptly put it, “a true actor. Not Hollywood style. Not pompous”.
To the point that the term “star” would never have sat well with him.
Yes, his was a recognisable face and his resume read like a selection of the finest Swiss chocolate – which is to say, from the decadently sweet and tangiest of tastes, to the lip-pursing bitter dark varieties, Hoffman was comfortable tackling all flavour of characters.
But the typical trappings of fame eluded him. His pale, freckled, sea-rogue features were never going to make the list of the Sexiest This or That, and his substantial girth would hardly have had the top designer brands clambering for endorsement deals.
Likewise, where many of his movie industry compatriots generally have to resort to silly hats and outlandish (not parti-cularly cunning) disguises in the hopes of being able to sneak out, unseen, Hoffman could quite casually go about his day as any other New Yorker does, without the paparazzi hounding his every move.
Not that he would have wanted them to. Fame held little appeal for this stupendous talent.
It was mastering the ability to avoid vulgar imitations preferred by those touted as his acting “equals”, in favour of capturing a character with a simple gesture, that so enthralled him. And his audiences.
Few but his ardent admirers knew of his skill for the stage (the raw realm of the real actor) over the course of his career, through which he garnered many accolades, as performer and director.
From those first tenuous shufflings on to the showbiz radar with minor supporting roles, Hoffman steadfastly proved the old adage that there are no small parts, only small actors. Success, not celebrity, was always his end game.
So much so, his long-standing weakness for alcohol and other noxious substances was a slap in the face for most.
Thus, that imbecilic entities should seek to malevolently shove him under “just another star turned druggie” status is an assault on the memory of a man who was anything but.
For all his achievements Hoffman was human. And, as we all do, he battled his private demons. “Private” being the vital factor in a false reality that otherwise sees celebrities banding their addictions about like some sort of publicity ploy.
Perhaps it was this that ultimately proved his undoing: as he revealed in a 2012 interview with the UK’s The Guardian newspaper: “The job isn’t difficult. Doing it well is difficult.
“Just because you like to do something doesn’t mean you have fun doing it; and I think that’s true about acting.”
Clearly, Hoffman felt the time had come to call “cut”.
LARA DE MATOS