POV

For Philip Seymour Hoffman

“The guy who dies in an accident understands the nature of destiny” – ‘HurlyBurly’ by David Rabe.

Story by The Dime Store Casanova - jsonnenblick88@gmail.com Photos by Icarus Blake
Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

We’ve lost the greatest actor of his generation. That is a fact, and there is no disputing it. When my father asked me “Did you hear about Philip Seymour Hoffman?” I didn’t think my response of “No. What?” was going to prompt him to say one of the most mind shattering utterances that any one person could rebut another with. “He’s dead,” my father said in a monotone voice. I went over to the computer to see if it was true. I quickly gathered myself and with hurried importance I went into the solitude of my room, sat on the corner of my bed and I cried. I just cried.

Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

The first thought I had was “Phil?” That’s who he was to all of us that had met him. He was Phil. I had never worked with the man or studied at the Lab (Labyrinth Theater Company), I ran into him two or three times on the street. From what I remember Phil was always quick to talk, but even quicker to listen to anything you had to say. Whether it be about theater, film or anything in between, he was a kind ear, someone with a big heart who knew that he wasn’t better or worse than anyone. Phil loved his craft as much as he loved breathing. He brought an undercurrent of tragedy to every character he played. One of the first films I’d ever seen him in was “Scent Of A Woman” with Al Pacino. Phil played a wealthy elitist private school kid who was hiding behind big money instead of being a true friend. He approached that character with such vigor and gusto that he nearly leaped off the screen.

Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

Phil also cared more about theater and the hope that it be taught in every school more than any actor in the universe. He and Stephen Adly Guirgis created one of the sanctuaries of theater, a place where you could go and be yourself and not have to worry about the outside world. Phil, no matter how difficult filming got, believed that the truth was in and was going to remain in the theater for as long as he had something to say about it. In the late 90’s into the late 2000’s Phil and Guirgis worked side by side on such productions as “Jesus Hopped The A Train” and “The Little Flower Of East Orange”. Phil was also in one of the most absorbing productions of Sam Shepard’s “True West” in which he and John C. Reilly learned each other’s roles and would switch off between Austin and Lee each night. That was the challenge and the balls of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Someone that believed anything could be done if you just went and did it.

Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

I did get to see him act onstage last winter in the revival of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”. Just thinking of Phil’s Willy Loman brings tears to my eyes and a chill up my spine. His guilt and love as this character was second to none. I remember sitting next to my girlfriend at the time and watching him shrink during one scene in the second act when Willy and Biff are in the restaurant and Biff realizes his father is a loser. Phil looked like he shrunk inches and I couldn’t figure it out. After the show she and I waited for about an hour and a half with maybe a dozen other people to see him. He came out and was visibly tired and didn’t want to talk.

“How did you make yourself shrink,” I asked.

“You liked that, huh?”

After he said that he let out that laugh. That laugh that now makes me cry uncontrollably. That laugh of his was real. Lancaster Dodd, Father Flynn, Truman Capote, Wilson Joel, Phil Parma, Brandt, Scotty J… All of those characters pale in comparison to Phil.

Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

Dedicated to Philip Seymour Photo © Icarus Blake

This is just something we all have to sit here and take on the chin. One of those unexplained mysteries of life that we can’t decipher because the only guy that knows isn’t talking. I guess as I write this I realize I’ll never see him walking around the city again or hear him talk. The one thing I don’t know that I can handle is never seeing him work again. On Saturday February 8th I’ll be going over to my friend Jason’s house to show him “The Master” because he has never seen it. We will drink whiskey. We will almost assuredly break down and cry at certain intervals.

Thank you so much for the talent and the time you spent here making us better actors/writers/creators, but most importantly thank you for making me a better human being. Sleep easy. Rest Well. Places in five.

Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014)

One Response to “For Philip Seymour Hoffman”

  1. Nancy Hirscj says:

    Special touching exquisite