With the tragic news that Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead this evening, after an alleged drug overdose, aged 46, it seems only appropriate to celebrate one of the screens best character actors. A man who bought so much to every role he played, he was a truly talented and highly respected actor, who was finding a new audience after his role in the Hunger Games films. It could have been so easy to pick every film he has appeared in for this special top ten but these are the films that, if you wanted to look back at his body of work, are the ones I would recommend to cover how extraordinary this actor was.
10. Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Even when given the chance to star in big budget, blockbuster fodder, Seymour Hoffman brought a special kind of magic to his role of villain Owen Davian. Not having to turn to pantomime evilness, he makes Davian a rounded baddie with a human side. Not often can you say that an actor manages to outshine the big set pieces, yet Hoffman managed to do so.
9. The Savages (2007)
Seymour Hoffman loved small scale independent movies and here is one just so. A poignant tale of siblings having to cope with a dying father, his work opposite the equally brilliant Laura Linney (who won an Oscar nomination), it’s a painfully realistic tale and one that hits to the heart. Track it down for two incredible performances.
8. A Late Quartet (2012)
Released last year, this tale of the slow collapse of a musical quartet had Seymour Hoffman holding his own against a career best from Christopher Walken. Playing opposite the equally talented Catherine Keener as his wife on the verge of divorce, this showed a different side to Seymour Hoffman as he convinces as a volinist.
7. The Master (2012)
The final time that Seymour Hoffman worked with P.T. Anderson, this tale of a cult leader who takes a damaged man under his wing, is very powerful and beautifully made and even with Joaquin Phoenix on absolute fire, he still manages to stand head and shoulders above everyone. While the film isn’t fully successful, it’s still worth while just for the leads stunning work.
6. Boogie Nights (1997)
Seymour Hoffman’s small performance as soundman Scotty J in Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic examination of the 70s porn industry really brought him to the public attention and while he is surrounded by a superb ensemble cast, to stand out among Mark Walhberg, Julianne Moore and Burt Reynolds is something of an achievement.
5. Almost Famous (2000)
Another small role for Seymour Hoffman that still grabs your attention, as music journalist Lester Bangs in this tale of a young music fan who manages to be taken under the wing by 70s rock band, Stillwater. Cameron Crowe wry semi-autobiographical tale is both funny and fascinating, with Seymour Hoffman bringing class to the proceedings.
4. Doubt (2008)
Based on an award winning play, this powerful tale of a priest accused of a dubious relationship with a naive student gets Seymour Hoffman up against the Queen of the Screen, Meryl Streep and young pretender, Amy Adams (who he worked with on The Master). Seymour Hoffman was nominated a best supporting actor Oscar for this gripping tale.
3. Magnolia (1999)
A masterpiece of cinema from Paul Thomas Anderson as this three hour epic of intertwining characters in one 24 hours in L.A. With a stellar cast and career best from Tom Cruise, Seymour Hoffman still managed to be noticed as the male nurse caught up with a dying man. A film well worth watching not only for Seymour Hoffman but everyone.
2. Happiness (1998)
Quirky, funny and incredibly shocking, Todd Solondz’s very black comedy is possibly more memorable for the pedophile story-line, yet Seymour Hoffman’s touching portrayal of a large man who feels he doesn’t stand a chance with the woman he falls for, it’s an outstanding and stand-out performance as he started his road to bigger recognition.
1. Capote (2005)
The film that brought him a well-deserved Oscar, playing the flamboyant writer Truman Capote as he researched his book, In Cold Blood, this is a master class in transformation. As Capote, you fully believed he was the writer and you knew while watching that this was the work of a remarkable actor.