Philip Seymour Hoffman: Our Favourite Performances

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Looking charismatic as Lancaster Dodd in P.T. Anderson’s The Master

If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest of us know, will you? For you’d be the first person in the history of the world.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd in The Master

Philip Seymour Hoffman as an actor succeeded exponentially in never producing a bad, or even average performance, just as he exceeded in choosing exceptional films to appear, or on the rare occasion star in.

With such a film legacy it’s undoubtable that much could be said about the sad passing of an acting great in the form of Philip Seymour Hoffman but here at Jordan and Eddie we thought it apt that we take a personal approach to the work of Hoffman and pick 3 of our favourite turns that while perhaps not his “best” in the true sense of the word, are reason’s why he was one of our favourite and most respected actors.

Listed here are 6 films which showcase his undeniable talent, chosen by both of us.

Jordan’s overview – Always captivating, and capable of commanding a film in his own quietly dignified way even in a secondary role, Hoffman was truly a one-of-a-kind professional and will be sadly missed. An Oscar winner, his true legacy may lie in the great collaborations he had with auteur and friend Paul Thomas Anderson; in particular Magnolia – being a film of great significance in which he is the emotional anchor.

Eddie’s overview – Hoffman was an actor who always made the film he was in that much better. He was an actor that could be anything from funny, creepy, sad, lonely, charismatic right through to being an actor that could become a real life figure as witnessed in his Oscar winning role as Truman Capote. It’s sad to ponder upon all the movies we will never see Hoffman make but in the end we should be thankful for the roles we will always have for they’re without doubt some of this generations finest turns.

Jordan’s 3 Favourite Philip Seymour Hoffman roles –

Hoffman's most wonderful turn in P.T. Anderson's Magnolia

Hoffman’s most wonderful turn in P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia

3. Allen: Happiness (1998)

Allen is not the ideal neighbour, and chances are that if you’re a female at home alone he’ll make you fearful of answering the phone. His psychiatrist is a paedophile, so that probably goes a way to explaining why he can never succeed in telling the stunning author in his building that he “finds her attractive,” and eventually the woman he does connect with (after years of neglecting her) also happens to have murdered the doorman.

As you might expect, this is not a greatly likeable performance by Hoffman, but it’s one that cannot be ignored. Back in 1998 it became immediately apparent that he would be a fearless actor, and choose roles based on the quality of the film, not quantity of screen time.

2. Jacob Elinsky: 25th Hour (2002)

Far from his most renowned performance or respected film, his turn as Jacob Elinsky, a disinfranchised teacher and best friend of criminal Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) in danger himself of giving into temptation with a young student (Anna Paquin) in Spike Lee’s Joint is utterly memorable thanks to his sweaty, desperate appearance  and ability to so truthfully embody a flawed character.

1. Phil Parma: Magnolia (1999)

This pick really needs no justification… he is the emotional centre and essential plot device in an intertwining, draining epic that borders on perfection. Phil Parma’s efforts to reunite a dying father and his estranged son ignite a fire of hope inside the audience when it appears all hope is lost, and this segment of Magnolia still stands as a pivotal piece of 90’s cinema.

Eddie’s 3 Favourite Philip Seymour Hoffman Performances –

philip seymour hoffman along came polly

Enjoying a rare comedic turn in Along Came Polly

3. Sandy Lyle: Along Came Polly (2004)

Before you bemoan the choice of this silly comedic role I would like to state that I truly believe Hoffman never gave a “bad” performance. Almost any of his roles could be found on such a list as this so it felt right to include his role as Ben Stiller’s basketball playing friend Sandy Lyle, one of the sweatiest men in existence. It’s a role that showcases Hoffman at his most carefree, a man merely enjoying his time acting and an example of an actor that can do anything. Honourable mention must be made of Hoffman’s sad yet strangely funny role as Scotty J. in the fantastic Boogie Nights which just missed out on this number 3 spot.

2. Andy: Before the Devil Knows Your Dead (2007)

In one of his rare leading roles Hoffman completely nailed his turn as Andy, a conniving criminal who would do anything to protect himself and get financial gain. It’s a despicable and complex character and makes the film a modern day crime classic that deserves to be tracked down.

1. Lancaster Dodd: The Master (2012)

In a movie that has divided the masses one thing remained universal – the fantastic supporting turn by Hoffman as charismatic and inwardly tortured Lancaster Dodd. In a role based around Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Hoffman displays a range of emotions from pent up rage through to loving family man. The scene set around a sing-along show-piece at a house gathering will forever be etched upon my memory not lest for the lack of clothing but for the site of an actor who disappeared completely into a character like only a true actor could. Vale Philip Seymour Hoffman, gone but not forgotten.

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34 responses to “Philip Seymour Hoffman: Our Favourite Performances

  1. How I remember him from “Happiness”, the first film I saw Hoffman in. From then on, onto my personal favorite performance in “The Master”, Hoffman has been consistent in continuously improving, reinventing himself and impressing the audience by the pure quality of his performances. I will miss him dearly.

  2. What an absolutely great post. Glad to see the 25th hour in there. A great performance that gets overlooked often. He was such a talented man and it’s so upsetting to know we’ll never get to experience another of his films again.

    • The great thing about PSh is the films he did get to make though as an artist he must of been extremely proud about the people he worked with and performances he gave.

  3. Great list guys, definitely no arguments here. I would throw Twister our there as another great one to remember him as a guy capable of doing really fun, light hearted things. And also Doubt, which I think is my favourite of his full on dramatic roles.

  4. Excellent post. He was such a brave actor, taking on roles that I think a lot of other actors would have shied away from. He stole every film he was in… including Along Came Polly.

  5. Touching post guys. Such a shame to lose someone with a wealth of talented, and so much more of it to give. My personal favourites are Lancaster Dodd in The Master and Caden Cotard in Synecdoche, New York. He had me on the verge of tears in the latter.


    • I’m actually yet to see Synecdoche, so I’ll really have to amend that soon. Absolutely it was clear that despite how great he was, the best could have still been before him.

  6. I’ve never really been a big fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman but I did love both 25th Hour and The Talented Mr Ripley. I thought his parts were very well played in both of those films. An excellent tribute.

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