As the days since Philip Seymour Hoffman's tragic death pass, we are beginning to learn more and more about the late actor. And on Tuesday, we were privy to more bittersweet news. Chaz Ebert, the wife of late acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert shared one of her late husband's wishes at a screening for Life Itself, a documentary on Ebert's life. According to Chaz, Roger Ebert wanted Philip Seymour Hoffman to play him in a biopic.
She told the audience:
Roger always said, "If you ever do a movie where you need someone to play me, I want Philip Seymour Hoffman to play me." He was one of the most versatile actors ever, and he also was a brilliant man [and] human being — just very smart.
She continued to say that when she was at Sundance Film Festival, she was chatting with attendees about the possibility of the casting. Clearly, it was in the forefront of her mind. "Roger and I thought he was just terrific," Chaz continued. "We thought he was one of the best actors of any age. He was just so versatile, and he was a brilliant, very smart human being."
And the couple isn't alone. Hoffman is unanimously heralded as one of the greats. And for the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, it was truly a testament to his acting ability to know that Roger Ebert, one of the most acclaimed film critics that ever lived, wanted him to star in his biopic. And this casting wish makes complete sense: Not only are the two men similar in appearance — fair, toe-headed, and a bit on the heavier side — they shared an equal passion for their craft. Ebert's reviews were the only ones I trusted about growing up, if he didn't give it three or more stars, I simply didn't care, and having Hoffman's name attached to any picture made it better by default.
Chaz continued to say: "It's so, so sad, and addiction is a really, really difficult thing. I really have so much sympathy for his children and his partner and his mother, whom Roger knew and liked a lot."
And as his death sinks in we can't help but wonder what we would have seen Hoffman in next. What would his next Oscar-winning role be? What did Roger Ebert think of Hoffman's performance in Catching Fire? We will pine over the fact that Ebert's good opinion can no longer be found. Both of these men, Hoffman and Ebert, are sorely missed, and one of the most tragic aspects of their deaths is that as an audience, we will selfishly mourn that we no longer get to enjoy their talents.