Friday, 7 February 2014


I never really expected to write here again, but there is a first time for everything. In the times when I am not really in the mood to work, I read pretty much everything. In the last few days, everything was pretty much marked by one thing - the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. By now, I have read more articles about Hoffman than I could count, yet it was, surprisingly, a blog entry on a fashion blog that struck me as the one I wanted to reply to. So this post started out as a comment, but ultimately seemed way too long to post, as a rude monologue imposed onto someone without them asking for it. It should have probably gone to the trash - monologues are almost always chokingly heavy, and somehow egoistic. But this space has always been egoistic in a way, so I let it live here...

Almost a week since the news came out, and I still cannot quite grasp it. It still feels both unreal and unfair.

I didn't know him, obviously. And we live at the opposite ends of the world, kind of, so I never accidentally came across him either. Yet he made his mark. He was, without any doubt, the best actor I have ever seen. I loved every one of his roles, as he could portray anyone so fearlessly and honestly; only now that I am forced to use these words to describe his works do I see how much we overuse them - sure, acting is a profession that requires courage, but only rarely does one really see a fearless performance. With Hoffman, while he always spoke of fear, you could never feel any of it watching him on the screen. But my favorite role of his is probably still that of Jacob Elinsky in Spike Lee's 25th Hour, where he plays a man at the same time uncomfortably self-absorbed and awkward, yet also gentle, innocent, and somehow broken, almost as if he himself is uncomfortable by his own presence, shy about his gestures, hiding his desires. I admired Hoffman deeply for being able to give so much soul to such complex, non-polished characters, and while it is unfair (to say the least) to make judgements of the actor based on his characters, I always thought it tells something of him as well - that he must have been a very open, sensitive person, to be able to feel all those characters and give them so much life on screen. 

His incredible work was one of the reasons I started writing about cinema, which I still occasionally do, and I was always hoping one day I'll get the opportunity to meet him at a festival somewhere for an interview, which I now know will never happen. To watch him play in a different setting, on the theatre stage, has been a wish of mine for a long time, and I used to plan imaginary trips to New York from Budapest with the schedule of plays in sight. Crazy, but true.

He was an incredible actor; and while there have been great losses for the art of cinema always, as time inevitably takes its toll, and some from the last few years still can be felt (James Gandolfini and Heath Ledger immediately come to mind), the emptiness that remains after Hoffman is of entirely different kind. He wasn't just great, outstanding, amazing, award-winning - he was also so incomparably different than anyone else, that the gap he leaves behind is too big to even grasp. I cannot imagine anyone else doing any one of his characters, and it saddens me immensely that for years to come, there will be so many roles played by others which would be played to perfection only by him.  How profoundly unfair.

How unfair. 

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