The shocking and sad death of Philip Seymour Hoffman on Sunday morning was a veritable whiplash reminder that life is short and precious. Many of the actors' friends, colleagues, and fans spent much of Sunday pouring their hearts out over the emotional news. And while some may have decided to criticize the actor for his relapse/heroin overdose, others that actually knew him took the time to memorialize Hoffman with a bit more dignity, like Hoffman's Almost Famous director, Cameron Crowe.
On his official website, The Uncool, Crowe opened up about working with Hoffman on a particularly iconic scene from the film, taking the time to remember the actor not for his foibles as a human with an addiction problem, but instead as the thoughtful and brilliant actor who captivated and utterly transformed any scene he was in.
As Lester Bangs, Hoffman was at his best: a vulnerable, bombastic persona with charisma and emotional connectivity in spades. His work on the film was some of the best, as evidenced by Crowe's admission that Hoffman's work actually made his own work better. Regardless of his struggles with addiction, there was no denying his deft emotional perception — which is what made him one of the geniuses of his own acting generation. And that is the way in which he should be remembered.
Check out Crowe's words in full:
My original take on this scene was a loud, late night pronouncement from Lester Bangs. A call to arms. In Phil’s hands it became something different. A scene about quiet truths shared between two guys, both at the crossroads, both hurting, and both up too late. It became the soul of the movie. In between takes, Hoffman spoke to no one. He listened only to his headset, only to the words of Lester himself. (His Walkman was filled with rare Lester interviews.) When the scene was over, I realized that Hoffman had pulled off a magic trick. He’d leapt over the words and the script, and gone hunting for the soul and compassion of the private Lester, the one only a few of us had ever met. Suddenly the portrait was complete. The crew and I will always be grateful for that front row seat to his genius.