In Praise of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Reaction to John le Carré’s essay in this Sunday’s New York Times is cascading forth on Twitter.

From San Francisco, Nelle Engeron opines that the piece is “the brilliant and heartbreaking obituary he [Philip Seymour Hoffman] deserves.” In Madison, Wisconsin, Dave Martin dubs le Carré’s “Staring at the Flame” the “best read of the week.” And from London, singer David Albury calls the article: “Touching and honest. And sad.” They’re all correct.

From le Carré’s essay:

No actor had ever made quite the impact on me that Philip did at that first encounter: not Richard Burton, not Burt Lancaster or even Alec Guinness. Philip greeted me as if he’d been waiting to meet me all his life, which I suspect was how he greeted everyone. But I’d been waiting to meet Philip for a long time.

I reckoned his Capote the best single performance I’d seen on screen. But I didn’t dare tell him that, because there’s always a danger with actors, when you tell them how great they were nine years ago, that they demand to know what’s been wrong with their performances ever since.

The British novelist spent “five hours at most” in the close company of Hoffman during the 2012 adapted production in Germany of his novel A Most Wanted Man; the film version opens in theaters Friday. How lucky we all are that the 82-year-old wordsmith has now seen fit to share his memories with the legion of fellow Hoffman admirers. RIP.

[Image courtesy: Roadside Attractions]

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