Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Final Disappearing Act

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Read on

We’re used to seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman disappear. He disappeared behind dark-rimmed glasses and a whimper, way down in the soul of Truman Capote. He disappeared under scraggly hair and a moustache as a wisdom-spouting Lester Bangs. He disappeared in a polyester Oakland A’s jersey, arms crossed, pouting in the direction of Billy Beane. He disappeared with a bob haircut and a tank top, holding a boom on a porno set, lusting after Dirk Diggler.

And then he disappeared on February 2, 2014, inside a standard issue black body bag, horizontal, strapped to a gurney, rolling out of his New York City apartment under camera flashes.

What’s most troubling about watching Hoffman in the new film A Most Wanted Man—one of his final roles—is that, for the first time in his two-decades-and-change career, Philip Seymour Hoffman looks like himself. When we watch him huff and wobble through the streets of Hamburg, we’re watching a fictional performance from a real-life man who was rapidly deteriorating, and would soon be dead. (more…)