His death by alleged drug overdose takes nothing away from a remarkable career. His character preparation is well known and his emotional commitment to character development helps explain the intensity of his presence. One always has the sense that something huge and unspoken is being restrained; that he is on the edge of some internal seismic shift. This was the power of his screen presence. Some of his most memorable performances were in "The Talented Mr Ripley" 1999; "The 25th Hour" 2002; "Cold Mountain" 2003; "Capote" 2005; "Doubt" 2008 and "The Master" 2012.
His role as Jacob Elinsky, the vulnerable, restless teacher in Spike Lee's "The 25th Hour", a brilliant exploration of America post-9/11, remains for me one of his most haunting performances. The film itself is horribly underrated since it is the first honest examination of life after the horror of the Twin Tower's attack. Lee invites us to experience the human context of 9/11 with only subtle references to it. Edward Norton offers one of his finest performances alongside Hoffman Barry Pepper and Brian Cox as they navigate the moral ambiguity of life.
"The 25th Hour" is a poetic homage to T.S Elliot's 'Wasteland' whose advice on separating the man from his work we should consider carefully in the days and weeks after Mr Hoffman's death. He was after all an artist and thus committed himself entirely to understanding the human condition. His battle with addiction is public; and as all who have trudged that path know-the road through addiction arcs from the highest bliss down to the darkest abyss. I sense that Mr Hoffman's personal life brought gravitas to his talent as an actor, but he was more than an addict and through his work we have a glimpse of an acting genius whose best seasons were ahead of him. All we can do now is appreciate the rich legacy he left behind.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
23-07-1967 to 02-02-2014