observations and opinion
"This is the scene in the movie, where you help me out"
When I am dead, I may not care much what is said about me. But I care now and so, let me ask that when I die, people refrain from saying “what a shame, imagine all the work he could have done, had he lived longer.”
This is what people are saying about Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died Sunday from heroin, aged 46. It is true that when a person dies before old age we are moved to think, “what might have been” – Hoffman and President Kennedy died at the same age, for example. Hoffman was older than Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Amy Winehouse, John Belushi, Kurt Cobain and Vincent Van Gogh, when they died. Each of them, had they lived, would likely have given us more of their good work, and their bad. Had they lived.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was a beautiful artist – the best male actor living, to my eyes. Those aspects of his craft which elevated him: deep intelligence, a roiling inner pain and a droll sense of humour, may well have been the things that killed him. He made the inner life visible. Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t so much an actor, as a guitar. His music filled him and rushed out at us so powerfully, you forgot there were fingers on the strings.
It is true that we only know the man through his work and so, naturally mourn the fact there will be no more of it. But isn’t it just a little selfish to dwell upon a person’s work, and the work left undone, in the hours and days following his death? Perhaps people don’t know what else to say and, feeling compelled to say something, say anything. Let us say this: Hoffman left three children and a spouse and a huge stable of friends and fans and family. His mother, who raised him by herself, mourns him today.
Philip Seymour Hoffman left half his life un-lived. It is tragic, but the tragedy is not in the roles he will not play.