So I know, I know, I’ve posted a lot about Philip Seymour Hoffman this week. Honestly, I am just downright heartbroken. I can’t really even explain why it has hit me so very hard.
The first time I ever saw him that I could remember was maybe Patch Adams. I saw him on Along Came Polly as Sandy Luke, the grown-up child star with little tact, and he made me laugh. But I really fell in love with him in Capote. He embodied the high-pitched, flamboyant, lovable man that took himself a tad too seriously. Honey, anyone that can keep that crazy voice that Truman Capote had throughout all of filming? I tip my hat to. Having read In Cold Blood, and partly knowing the background of the movie, I really had a deep appreciation of it. All I can say is: his acting was AMAZING. Which was evident when he took the Oscar home that year for Best Actor. If you have not seen the movie, I simply demand you see it.
I recently went and saw Catching Fire (my favorite of the Hunger Games books). I cannot tell you what a happy surprise it was to see him in the role of Plutarch Heavensbee. I am now looking forward to the movies that will come out posthumously with him, but I won’t guarantee that I will not cry through them all.
I hope that he will be remembered for his incredible acting ability, not the manner in which he died. His ability to be a chameleon and very subtly turn into his character. No, he never half-assed it. He BECAME the character and had the audience believing every word rolling off his tongue was the “true” him. An asset to his profession and a mournful loss to those he entertained for the past twenty years.
His acting career isn’t really what this blog post is about though. I wanted to react to some of the comments other actors have made about his death this week.
For those of you who haven’t read the articles. When PSH was in his early twenties he had a substance abuse problem that he sought help for. He had been sober for 20+ years before he fell back into the throes of his addiction last year; finally succumbing to it last Sunday.
To be honest, I have been obsessed with reading just about every article in the past few days. Perhaps, I wanted to take in every word hoping to be able to wrap my head around the fact that he’s no longer here. Maybe hoping to understand his ill-fated last days.
Today, I read something that made me really angry. There were some celebrities that made remarks such as that he was “selfish,” “senseless,” or “stupid.” Some even said “what wasted talent.”
Granted, doing drugs is not nearly the smartest thing one can do. These comments just hit me really wrong. Surely, SURELY, those that made those remarks do not realize what a strong hold addiction can have on someone. An “addiction” is not simply social drinking...it’s not the occasional pot use. Do they not realize that anyone facing an addiction feels guilt any time that they put that needle to their arm? That glass to their lips? Their need for their vice is just too strong. It’s not necessarily a “selfish” life...it’s a guilt-ridden one.
We all have demons. For some, alcohol plagues them. For some, drugs. For others, adultery. Gambling, excessive shopping, the list goes on and on...it could even be thoughts or a form of mental illness.
To bring this point home, I will share this: My personal demon would be thoughts of suicide. There is probably not a day that goes by that that thought is not in the back of my mind. Granted, I know that these are not rational thoughts...I know this, therefore I do not act on them. But that’s the thing about “demons”...they’re always lurking somewhere in the background. Brought forth to the front at the slightest sign of insecurity or resignation. I can be smiling and seemingly full of self-confidence. But there is always that voice in my head saying that I am worthless and unnecessary. When my mind wanders to those dark areas, I often wonder if a loss would be felt if I was not here. I feel a lot of guilt for things that have happened in my life that perhaps could not have been avoided, but I have strapped on my shoulders. I’m just illustrating a problem, that I’m certain that others deal with as well, and fight every day. Again, I’m just sharing a darker side of my story to prove a point.
I tell you that to say this: Money cannot make you free from addiction or “demons.” Nor talent. Nor status or popularity. Nor friends or close family. Nor faith (although it can be an aide in getting through it).
Let’s always keep in mind that people can be facing battles that others may not can see or understand. That’s something I, myself, need to work on, too.
Rather than scrutinize his death, and talk about what he could’ve/should’ve done...let’s celebrate the life of a brilliant actor. One of the greatest of his time. Let’s remember him.
I wish this past year could have been easier on you, PSH.
You will forever be missed.
For those of you who have seen the Hunger Games,
or read it, you will understand this reference.