Like so many people, I was shocked and saddened when I learned of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Of all the actors who have emerged in Hollywood over the past two decades, he was the one I liked the most. His performances were always powerful. In Capote, he mimicked the famous writer’s voice and mannerisms, without becoming a caricature. My favorite performance of his, however, was in The Master, in which he played a cult leader. Hoffman exuded an air of authority and all-knowingness that you understand why people would follow such a man despite the demands that he made on them. (I was not that impressed by his performance in Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but I think that is because the character was not well written.)
Hoffman reportedly died from a heroin overdose in his New York apartment. When I lived in New York, I knew several people who became heroin addicts. One of them died from an overdose. There is a very strong drug scene in New York, one in which many people get caught up. I don’t know whether this was a factor in why Hoffman became an addict, but I can’t help but note the possibility. One of my first memories of New York is of people whispering “steelworks” to me as they passed me on the street. They were offering to sell me heroin. New York can be a very stressful place to live, which may be why some people turn to drugs.
James Urbaniak tells an interesting story about Hoffman here.