The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman at age forty-six from a heroin overdose early last month (Feb. 2) has sent the usual shock waves through the highly publicized stage and screen worlds of Hollywood and New York. And while it was hardly the first time a life was lost to heroin addiction among the glitterati, it happened this time around to someone singularly gifted in the performing arts. Here was a star whose nimbus clearly outshone all the others.
“What have we been robbed of, by his death?” asked Anthony Lane in a glowing remembrance in The New Yorker (Feb. 17 & 24). “Not so much a movie star, I think, as somebody who took our dramatic taxonomy … and threw it away. Leading man, character actor, supporting player: really, who gives a damn? Either you hold an audience, so tight that it feels lashed to the seats, or you don’t.”