Pop Culture: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman


When I heard on Feb. 3, that the world had lost one of its greatest talents the day before, we on The Point News staff reminisced. Philip Seymour Hoffman, born in Fairport, New York, and most recently known for his work in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (the movie adaptation of Book Two of The Hunger Games series) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (the two-part movie adaptation of Book Three of the same series), in the role of Plutarch Heavensbee, was found dead in an apartment in New York City, New York, at age 46.

Hoffman received his Bachelor’s degree in Drama from New York University (NYU) and started acting almost immediately – it only took him two years to get from average college graduate to his first TV spot. He developed his own trademarks, things that would let everyone know who he was, including his very particular speech and facial expressions. Over the years, he would enjoy success in over 60 roles on the big and small screen.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was always one of my favorite actors, because I liked everything he did. In fact, no one I have spoken to said that they did not enjoy the performances he has put on, whether they saw him in a movie or got lucky enough to see him on the stage. A few people said that even if they did not understand or like the movie, they could appreciate Hoffman’s role and performance; everything he did was very well done. There are very few actors I can say that no matter what, they are good. It has gotten to the point where I look at a cast list for a movie I think looks interesting, see Hoffman’s name, and think, “Hey, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s in it, it must be good,” and even if the movie didn’t turn out to be very good, I always thought he was.

His television/film career began when with a guest spot on Law & Order in 1991 (in an episode titled “The Violence of Summer”), and from there his success skyrocketed, as his talent was discovered. What makes Hoffman so unique? Among his many trademarks, the reason he was considered so great was that he really could do anything. It is the reason people love him; he is not the type of actor that can only portray one type of personality, and therefore all of his/her characters need to be similar to that personality. He could be anyone he wanted his audience to believe him to be, running through a very wide range of emotions (often while playing a single character in a short span of time), a talent that is very rare – while many actors are typecast, it would have been impossible to typecast Hoffman, because he was not good at only one thing.

In addition to his role as Plutarch, Hoffman is best known for his roles in The Big Lebowski (1998), Capote (2005), Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Doubt (2008), and The Master (2012). In addition to acting in movies, he acted on stage (most recently known for Death of a Salesman) and directed theater productions. He was nominated for a large number of awards, winning more than 60 awards, 23 of which were for his role in Capote and included a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.