Like so many people I’m saddened by the loss of actor Philip Hoffman who succumbed to an apparent drug overdose this weekend. It’s SOP to sing the praises of anyone after they’re gone, but in this case some singing is warranted. Watching some of the clips of Hoffman in various films last night and today, I was struck by two observations: in several cases, his transformation into the role was so complete, the original editor of Creem magazine in Almost Famous (Who incidentally, did die of a drug overdose) or the trust fund kid in The Talented Mr. Ripley, that I didn’t even know it was him playing the part until now. Second, in those roles and others, his performance was so superb, even as a relatively minor supporting actor, that I remembered them, he drew me in with an authenticity that just popped right out of the screen.
That being said, I have to ponder and wonder, had a Latino ball-player or black musician of equivalent talent been found dead in a luxury apartment, surrounded by half empty packets of smack and pill bottles, with an emptied syringe sticking out of their stiff, cold arm for chrissake, would media be so kind? Because I suspect there would be significant elements in the news and general communities who would shrug it off as “uppity fucking nigger got what was coming to them.”