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Philip Seymour Hoffman


I wrote a blog about movies, which I started to post yesterday, when I read about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. My husband, stepson, and I had just come back from having lunch at the diner and were about to do our individual activities, but were, as I assume might be true of you when you heard the news, shocked and saddened and unable to move on for a bit so we stopped in our tracks to read more about it and hug.

I’ve seen every production of “Death of a Salesman.” I see everything Mike Nichols directs. Hoffman’s portrayal of Willy Loman on Broadway in 2012 blew me away. Jonathan and I sat in Juniors after, eating cheesecake and not talking about the play or anything else, because we were so moved. Then we talked about it for weeks.

Six years ago, while swimming in a mid-town hotel pool, Hoffman was there with his family. The whole time he was in the water happily playing with his children. He was totally engaged, giving all of himself to them, which was a lot. No one bothered him. No one seemed to know who he was other than a loving dad spending Sunday afternoon with his kids.

A generous, loving, down-to-earth man. A great actor. His death is a tragedy. His life was too short.

Celebrities, news commentators, his Greenwich Village neighbors, and addiction specialists are paying beautiful tributes, weighing in with cautionary tales, and reminding us of lessons and truths. About inner demons. About how one cannot understand or eliminate another’s pain. About how success, artistic fulfillment, and achievement do not guarantee (and have little to do with) happiness. Of course.

In keeping with the movies—my theme this week—I’ll close with my favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman movies, which are all the ones I’ve seen: CAPOTE, SCENT OF A WOMAN, BOOGIE NIGHTS, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, THE SAVAGES, DOUBT, and CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR.

As Arthur Miller wrote of Willy, Hoffman was “not a dime a dozen” and “attention must be paid.”

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