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Feature
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Empire's Favourite Performances
The Empire team choose their best-loved moments from the late, great actor

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The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman aged 46 has deprived modern cinema of one of its true greats. An Oscar winner with three other Academy Award nominations to his name, he was loved and admired by his peers. He was also loved and admired by audiences the world over, lighting up films both big (Mission: Impossible III) and small (Capote) with his chameleon presence, and even launching an embryonic career on the other side of the camera with Jack Goes Boating. As our tribute, Team Empire has picked the moments when we loved PSH the most.

WORDS TEAM EMPIRE
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ALMOST FAMOUS (2000)

Almost Famous (2000)

Chosen by: Mark Dinning, Editor

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool…” So says Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical Almost Famous.

Crowe’s movie remains a woozy and wonderful love letter to his early days documenting his rock ‘n’ roll heroes, and Hoffman’s glorious, acerbically warm performance as his rock-journalist/Beat poet mentor Bangs remains an indelible piece of casting – both his and Bangs’ surface scruffiness belying the razor sharp lines of wit and wisdom that always lay beneath.

The bankrupt world benefitted greatly from Hoffman’s sharing of his unquestionable talent, fuelled largely by his own insecurity. “If I don’t get an absolute feel for the material then it’s just not worth doing,” he once said of choosing scripts. “If I commit to something I am committing to putting a piece of me out there. If that piece isn’t going to be all it can be then it isn’t worth the risk.”

He was right, of course. There’s a permanence to film performances that has always made them as terrifying as they are tempting. And Hoffman’s record is proud testament to both his taste and his talent. Or, as his Bangs puts it: “Great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love…” And amen to that.


 

TWISTER (1996)

Twister (1996)

Chosen by: Ian Freer, Assistant Editor

Clearly Dustin ‘Dusty' Davis, the manic storm chaser in Twister, is the not the apotheosis of Hoffman’s talent, but it does shine a chink of light on one of his great gifts. It might be difficult to remember now, but for years Hoffman was That Guy From That Thing and the energy and commitment he brought to Dusty — watch him shout “It’s a wonder of nature, baby”, then wig out to Deep Purple — was typical of his ability to add an edge and vitality to potentially bland supporting roles or comic relief. Big studio movies never really figured out what to do with Hoffman’s singular talent in chunkier roles, but his ability to outshine big names and bigger visual effects is to be cherished. A wonder of nature indeed.


 

THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Chosen by: Amar Vijay, Creative Director (Online)

Obviously, The Big Lebowski is an amazing film with indelible characters. But outside the main trio of Bridges, Goodman and Buscemi, it’s Hoffman’s uptight Brandt, encapsulating the perfect yes-man employed by the “other” Lebowski, who stands out for me as one of the greatest in the pantheon of minor Coen characters.

In his few scenes, Hoffman delivers the perfect amount of smarm. He comes across as a most annoyingly loyal employee, displays freakishly OCD tendencies and finally shows a dash of childish embarrassment when dealing with unsavoury conversations. The moment when he first meets The Dude, before allowing the perma-bathrobed one a meeting with his boss, is note-perfect, showing off his immense talent and heightening those vast lifestyle differences between The Dude and Brandt in two perfect minutes.

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Your Comments

1 25th Hour Agreement
I think 25th Hour is one of his understated joys. More

Posted by Wagg on Friday February 7, 2014, 11:15

2 The Talented Mr. Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman got me interested after The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, not 2001 as stated here). Truth be told, every single performance of his could be easily included in this list. R.I.P. More

Posted by Fernet Branca on Thursday February 6, 2014, 10:38

3 25th hour
I always thought 25th hour had one of Hoffman's finest scene -- seriously should have been on your list. No lines -- Bathroom scene, kissing his student. When the music brings him out -- man, that is a wonderful moment. More

Posted by stupidusername on Thursday February 6, 2014, 02:02

4
I think he was one of my favourite actors of all time. I always hoped I would get to see him on stage as well. My favourite performances would be Doubt, Happiness and Boogie Nights. He is the best thing by far in all the Mission: Impossible movies. I even love the bit he is desperately trying to stop the bodyguard coming into the toilet. More

Posted by bradcam72 on Wednesday February 5, 2014, 12:24

5
I loved all of his performances but to me, Love Liza is the one thet really shows of his vast range of talent. More

Posted by hi charlie on Tuesday February 4, 2014, 19:44

6 Scene Stealer
pretty much stole the show in every movie even Brad couldn't stop him Moneyball More

Posted by megamajestic on Tuesday February 4, 2014, 18:56

7 Scent of a woman
This is my first memory of him and he is a little fucker in it if I remember rightly. After watching it, he was one of the characters that stayed with me. Addiction is terrible. Sad times. More

Posted by stephenhickman2 on Tuesday February 4, 2014, 16:37

8 Where is "The Boat That Rocked"???
Quite simply.... Where is "The Boat That Rocked"??? More

Posted by ultimate cameo on Tuesday February 4, 2014, 11:10

9 RE: Philip Seymour Hoffman: Empire's Favourite Performances
Punch Drunk Love anyone? The phone conversation with Sandler was brilliant. More

Posted by skippy82 on Monday February 3, 2014, 21:52

10 Charlie Wilsons War
He was hilarious in that role armed with an Aaron Sorkin script. Wonderful actor truly sad. RIP Philip. More

Posted by Blyman on Monday February 3, 2014, 21:02

11 No Boogie Nights?
That is definitely one of my fave performances by him and the first time I noticed him! A great loss! More

Posted by Andybee76 on Monday February 3, 2014, 19:42

12
Well i've added a few of those to my list that I havn't yet seen, look forward to them. More

Posted by durelius on Monday February 3, 2014, 19:18

13 RE: RE:
My first scene that came to mind for me was confronting " Tom Ripley" "Is it on "delle Croce, just off the Corso?" You're a quick study, aren't you? Last time you didn't know your ass from your elbow, now you're giving me directions. That's not fair, you probably do know your ass from your elbow. I'll see you." Along with his portrayal of Capote and Andy in Before The Devil Knows Your Dead will be my lasting memories. More

Posted by Magenta on Monday February 3, 2014, 18:22

14 RE:
despite him being amazing in Charlie Wilson's War - I have to say that my fave performance was in the Boat that Rocked.... He just made me smile!!! So sad today..... More

Posted by Antcav on Monday February 3, 2014, 16:35

15
One of my favourite performances of his was in Charlie Wilsons War, Rest in Peace Philip Seymour Hoffman. More

Posted by Dr Yakubu on Monday February 3, 2014, 15:54

16
That was supposed to read 'Real shame.." Sorry More

Posted by ash333 on Monday February 3, 2014, 15:47

17 Real Sha
I'd struggle to pick a favourite role from all he did but I'll mention Boogie Nights as none of you did.. It's the first thing I remember seeing him in. Creepy and horribly awkward, but in love and unable to fully express it. Amazing performance. R.I.P. More

Posted by ash333 on Monday February 3, 2014, 15:46

18 One last one...
Doubt with Meryl Streep also absent More

Posted by Daniel4031 on Monday February 3, 2014, 15:37

19 Also, Love Liza
Love Lisa also definitely worth a mention. Very sad to lose such a talent, R.I.P. More

Posted by Daniel4031 on Monday February 3, 2014, 15:36

20 Er, The Savages
Would have included the awesome dark comedy The Savages, especially instead of MI: 3. More

Posted by Daniel4031 on Monday February 3, 2014, 15:34

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