Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

I was greatly saddened to hear of the death of this talented actor at the age of only 46. I've seen all the Hollywood stars talk of his talent and what a nice genuine guy he was, I've seen fans talk about him being one of the best actors of his generation. People have talked of his family man persona and how he had no airs and graces. And I tend to agree for the most part with what they are saying.

Then come the 'experts' who start on about it being another example of the Hollywood lifestyle eating up and spitting out the star who can't handle the fame. No, that is bullcrap. Philip was very open about having drink and drug problems before he was 22, before he became such a well known actor. The fact that he got clean and sober and stayed that way for 20 years or so while enduring the ups and downs of a film career says a lot for the strength of will and character of the man. The tragic thing about addiction is that is never leaves you. You can control it, but are never sure if you have beaten it. It just takes a setback, a death in the family, a break up, a crappy day and your world can come crashing back down again. Sadly it looks as though this may have happened to Philip. This was not a bored Hollywood film star with too much time and money who decided to snort cocaine up his nose for fun. This was a guy who found drugs early and turned his life around, only to get sucked back in again. That is the real tragedy.

The 'experts' are also quick to point the finger of blame at family, friends and film studios for not helping him or giving him the support he needed. That really annoyed me. Philip said that his family and friends did everything they could to help him and he did not send blame their way. This was a man who took full responsibility for what he was doing and I respect him for that. You can grab a bottle from the hand of an alcoholic but as soon as you go to work or sleep, they will be getting another bottle from somewhere. It is the nature of an addictive illness. You can't watch somebody 24/7. You can't make them stop. You can't do the hard work for them. It is soul destroying and it is frustrating and it makes you angry-but only the addict can defeat the demons. You can only offer love and support and accept that it won't always be enough.

I don't doubt that Philip was trying his hardest to beat this relapse, especially the way he loved his family. I can't imagine how hard it is to beat a drug addiction so I refuse to pass judgement on him. It doesn't matter how much money you have or that you can easily afford rehab-the hard bit is getting yourself to that place in your head where you gain control long enough to grab the help before it pulls you under again. Sadly, Philip was unable to get that control back before it killed him.

So we will mourn the passing of a great actor and shed tears for his family. And then we will wonder who might be next.

Rest in peace Philip Seymour Hoffman. The demons can no longer torment you.



  1. Very well spoken. I agree with you. The news has hit me hard and made me so sad. I was shocked. I didn't know he had the addiction before he became an actor, and you're right - addiction never goes away. It's something people struggle with for the rest of their lives.

    That he was able to maintain 20-something years of sobriety is nothing short of astounding. Forty-six is too damn young. The first movie I saw him in was The Talented Mr. Ripley. Such a talent and he seemed to be a genuinely nice guy in the cutthroat business.

    I also don't think Hollywood really appreciated him until now after his death. I think it was like that for Heath Ledger, too, and a lot of actors. I don't feel like I appreciated him. I'm glad he was able to take on the role of Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire and Mockingjay. He MADE the character come to life.

  2. He was great in Mr Ripley wasn't he? I'm looking forward to seeing him in Catching Fire as I refuse to pay the cinema prices! It should be a fitting finale for him.