Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 15 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. César de Bus
home iconNews
line break icon

Hoffman, All Too Human

Hermann J Knippertz

Matthew Becklo - published on 02/06/14

An underappreciated genius.

When the world suddenly and tragically lost Philip Seymour Hoffman this week, journalists scarcely knew where to begin in summarizing the actor’s work. No wonder – prolificacy is one of the surest signs of genius.

Many thought first of his Oscar win for the biopic, Capote. (“My friends, my friends, my friends,” he uttered from the stage, covering his eyes with a trembling hand.) Others would recall his five collaborations with Paul Thomas Anderson: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia, and most recently, The Master. (About Magnolia, Hoffman declared: “I think Magnolia is one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and I can say that straight and out. And anybody that disagrees with me, I’ll fight you to the death.”)

Each of these performances deserves a book, and in PTA’s films alone, Hoffman’s unbelievable range is on full display. But between 1992’s Scent of a Woman to 2014’s God’s Pocket, there is so much more to see. He made us howl with laughter as the schlubby best bud in Along Came Polly (“Let it rain!”) and the uptight assistant in The Big Lebowski (“This is our concern, Dude.”) He made us cringe as a hopeless widower in Love Liza and a hapless gambler in Owning Mahoney. He shined as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous and Father Flynn in Doubt – two of my personal favorites.

Doubt – an adaptation of a stage play by John Patrick Shanley – was for many the only glimpse they’d ever get into Hoffman’s stage work. He acted in classics like True West, A Long Days Journey into Night, and Death of a Salesman, and directed Jesus Hopped the A Train, Our Lady of 121st Street, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot for the Labyrinth Theatre Company.

Jesuit priest, author, and “Colbert Report” chaplain Fr. James Martin was asked to be a theological advisor for both Judas Iscariot and Doubt. In a recent Facebook post, Fr. Martin shared his memories of the noble man behind so many ignoble characters: “He was a lovely person, who instantly made me feel welcome and never, ever, put on airs… Phil was so devoted to his work, took pains to get every aspect of his performance as a priest correct, and, as such, it was a real grace to watch him work. Seeing him act was a reminder of what it means to have a real vocation.”

  • 1
  • 2
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
St. Faustina’s coffee cup and lessons for Divine Mercy Sund...
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ
A simple test to see if you really believe Christ is risen
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
Here’s how to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at home
Cerith Gardiner
11 Interesting facts about the late Prince Philip
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.