I was at Starbucks when the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death took over my Twitter feed. Immediately, I checked in with my lifelong friends Alex, Kristi, and Joseph to see if they had heard. It’s Oscar season, and for most of the years I’ve known them, we’ve done an Oscar pool. So I knew exactly how they would feel about Hoffman’s death.
Celebrity deaths are nothing new, and these days somewhat predictable. But every once in a while, there’s one that hurts. Hoffman’s death feels different, maybe because social media amplifies these situations. The immediacy certainly amplifies the outpouring of grief. It feels different because it feels personal.
Hoffman was 46, slightly older than me and my circle of friends. (I don’t think they would mind me recounting our group text conversation.) After confirming that the story was not a hoax, we just listed all the movies we had seen or were planning on seeing: The Master, Doubt, Capote, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Almost Famous, State and Main … that’s just a few.
I asked my circle what made Philip Seymour Hoffman so good. We agreed he had a chameleon-like quality. His acting seemed effortless. Then Alex added, “… the things in life that appear effortless require the most effort, and his acting seemed effortless.” In that, we could all relate. He was a presence, and he will be missed.
"Be honest and unmerciful."