Philip Seymour Hoffman: The imperfections that made him so adorable

In the right role the star of so many great movies was worth a dozen Tom Cruises

Share

The death of the very fine actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is a sad affair. Not, it might be said, as entirely shocking as the mawkish hoards of social media might suggest. Hoffman was hardly a vision of rude health. He was 46 when he died, and had always looked around 46, even when he was 28.

With Hoffman there was the suggestion that this wasn’t a man strictly in adherence to the big screen’s demands for honed living. And it was this imperfection, his waxing and waning waistline, a face that perpetually suggested a life in transit and a certain cerebral adriftness, which made him so completely adorable.

In the right role Hoffman was worth a dozen Tom Cruises. Up he would pop, often spivvy, with his puppy fat and shock of pale ginger hair. He was the king of the flamboyant but uptight one-liner and the passive-aggressive zing. He brightened up Hollywood by playing the loner, the pervert, the sad-hearted anti-hero or the scoundrel with whom we wobbly mortals could identify.

He died, it is said, with a needle in his arm. He had spoken about heroin addiction before and about his attempts to turn his back on this most destructive and seemingly delicious of hobbies.

I’ve read a few times over the past day or so how Hoffman “lost his battle” with drugs. To me the word “battle” sounds incongruous and unhelpful. If drugs felt remotely like a war, nobody would take them. By the time one has taken heroin on and off for decades - like Hoffman and millions of others have -  it doesn’t feel like a battlefield. It’s more a comfy pair of pyjamas laid out on the radiator by Mum.

You can use rehab to try shocking people into stopping heroin. You can try mentoring them into stopping. But how you stop people creeping back for the clandestine cuddle that ends up killing them is still a mystery. If Hoffman couldn’t be stopped, what hope is there for the rest.

Philip Seymour Hoffman dead: A magnificent and versatile screen actor whether in the lead or as a memorable cameo

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion this leading designer and sup...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Primary Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: Physics Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment is currently working ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would tackle our looming dementia crisis

Susan Greenfield
 

Letters: NHS data-sharing is good for patients

Independent Voices
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee