Hollywood is full of good actors. But great actors – generation-defining ones – are a rare thing.
In losing Philip Seymour Hoffman, the movie industry has lost one of the most sublime actors not just of a generation, but of all time.
Like Heath Ledger, who tragically passed away almost exactly six years ago, Hoffman spent the first half of his career in supporting roles on mostly average films.
That was until he caught the eye of the Coen Brothers and was cast in 1998’s The Big Lebowski, in which he stole the show as Lebowski’s assistant Brandt.
Over the next 15 years, Hoffman went from supporting actor to leading actor to Oscar-winner, for his 2005 role in Capote.
And for the past few years he’s won over critics and audiences in big blockbusters like The Hunger Games and Moneyball, as well as award-winning films including The Master and Doubt.
But away from the big budget, gong-scooping movies for which he’s become famous, PSH also starred in a handful of lesser-known but equally incredible pictures, in which he gave some astounding performances. Here are our five favourites:
01 Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
This deeply dark and criminally underrated film from director Sidney Lumet (of 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon fame) features Hoffman as an indebted addict who – with the help of his brother – robs his own parents. If you’re a fan of Marissa Tomei, the opening scene alone is worth the price.
It’s raining frogs in Paul Thomas Anderson’s weird and wonderful Oscar-nominated masterpiece. It’s not as light or easy to get into as Anderson’s Boogie Nights, but it’s just as brilliant.
03 Synecdoche, New York
Yes, Charlie Kaufman’s sprawling puzzle of a movie is often as hard to follow as it is to pronounce, but that just makes it all the more rewarding.
04 The Savages
Not to be confused with Oliver Stone’s woefully awful Savages, this grim 2007 low-budget drama sees Hoffman and Laura Linney caring for their ailing father. Heartbreaking, poignant and superbly acted.
The title is slightly misleading: this is a black comedy of the blackest variety. PSH plays an obsessive, sweaty stalker, and gives one of the best performances of his career.
Words by Dan Jude.