I’m angry that Philip Seymour Hoffman has died. I’m angry about how Philip Seymour Hoffman has died, but most of all; I’m angry about how little we knew of him.
I feel as if I was lied to. I thought he was something else, somebody else. I feel bamboozled, almost betrayed in a way by a man who I could always depend on to provide a great performance and that’s exactly what it was — a performance. It was nothing more and nothing less than an act, a damn good one.
Maybe if we had, we would have found out the truth, the facts about a life spiraling out of control. But we didn’t want facts or even truth, not if it got in the way of a legend. Right?
What a shame.
You see, I bought into the media created Hoffman mystique, a mystique that ignored the real Hoffman, the troubled Hoffman. The mystique that may have contributed to his downfall by trying to make him out be more than he was.
Ever the wise sage-like figure, that’s how Hoffman was presented to us. We never asked why he seldom cleaned up or shaved, because we figured he wasn’t like the rest of us; too busy thinking big thoughts. Now we know what we should have asked. And maybe if we had, we would have found out the truth, the facts about a life spiraling out of control. But we didn’t want facts or even truth, not if it got in the way of a legend. Right?
What a shame.
When Hoffman refused to talk to reporters, because he couldn’t be bothered with questions about politics for fear it would screw up his creative mojo, I believed him.
When he rambled with ‘the meaning of life’ type of answers to questions about acting, I wondered what he knew that I didn’t.
And when reporters elevated him to guru status, we all seemed to buy in.
I believed him when he said he wanted to be left alone. I believed him when he asked only to be judged by his work. I thought it was his strength, but it may have been his weakness.
Hoffman, I erroneously believed, had ascended into that JD Salinger school of creative type casts. You know, the aloof ones who keep to themselves in a hermit-like manner.
Yes, we believed, in part because they made us believe, that Hoffman was just that much smarter than us. We never dared look behind the curtain — behind the mystical domain of the great and powerful (Oz) Hoffman. Now we know better. As we would have done better by him and by us if we’d taken that good look, a real look.
I’m going to miss Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was no doubt one of the greatest at his craft – a magnificent actor – who I thought was so much more. I was wrong. We were all wrong to try and make him more than he was.
Hoffman was, in many ways, a media blown up figure —– created by and for a make-believe world to make the rest of us in the real world feel somehow inferior. The process served neither us nor Hoffman well.
Lesson learned — again!