Philip Seymour Hoffman
( b. Jul 23, 1967 Fairport, New York, USA - d. Feb 02, 2014 New York, New York, USA ) Male
Hoffman was perhaps the most ambitious and widely admired American actor of his generation, who gave three-dimensional nuance to a wide range of sidekicks, villains and leading men on screen and embraced some of the theater’s most burdensome roles on Broadway.
A stocky, often sleepy-looking man with blond, generally uncombed hair who favored the rumpled clothes more associated with an out-of-work actor than a star, Mr. Hoffman did not cut the traditional figure of a leading man, though he was more than capable of leading roles.
In his final appearance on Broadway, in 2012, he put his Everyman mien to work in portraying perhaps the American theater’s most celebrated protagonist — Willy Loman, Arthur Miller’s title character in Death of a Salesman. At 44, he was widely seen as young for the part — the casting, by the director Mike Nichols, was meant to emphasize the flashback scenes depicting a younger, pre-disillusionment Willy. “Mr. Hoffman does terminal uncertainty better than practically anyone,” Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times, “and he’s terrific in showing the doubt that crumples Willy just when he’s trying to sell his own brand of all-American optimism.”
In supporting roles, he was nominated three times for Academy Awards — as a priest under suspicion of sexual predation in “Doubt” (2008); as a C.I.A. agent especially eloquent in high dudgeon in “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007); and as a charismatic cult leader in “The Master” (2012).
But he won in the best actor category for “Capote” (2005). As the eccentrically sociable, brilliantly probing and unflappably gay author of “In Cold Blood,“ Mr. Hoffman flawlessly affected the real-life Truman Capote’s distinctly nasal, high-pitched voice and the naturally fey drama of his presence. Writing in The Times, A. O. Scott described the film as being about a writer’s relationship with his work.
But citing the highlights of Mr. Hoffman’s prolific work life — which included directing and acting in Off Broadway shows for the Labyrinth Theater Company, a New York City troupe, which he served for a time as artistic director — undervalues his versatility and his willingness, rare in a celebrity actor, to explore the depths of not just creepy or villainous characters, but pathetically unattractive ones. He was a chameleon of especially vivid colors in roles that called for him to be unappealing.
As a director, Mr. Hoffman worked with Stephen Adly Guirgis, a Labyrinth colleague, on several well-received Off Broadway plays, including “In Arabia We’d All Be Kings,” “Jesus Hopped the A Train,” “Our Lady of 121st Street” and “The Little Flower of East Orange” — all tempestuous works about urban life — and a fantasy biblical discourse, “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.”
Source: The New York Times obituary
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