More Than a Tragic Headline

February 4, 2014

in Actually Important, Depression, Heather of the EO/Just Write

*I just posted this, then went over to link up to Just Write via Heather of the EO. And found her post about addiction, recovery, and the public response to Mr. Hoffman’s passing. You know, you should really go read her post, not mine.

This one was a sucker punch.

Of course I didn’t expect it, because I didn’t know him past his work, but hearing that Philip Seymour Hoffman died was shocking and painful, like I’d been clobbered from behind.

I felt bad for the usual reasons. He had kids, people said he was a kind man, a good dad.  He talked openly about his addictions, recovery, relapse, and I’m sure (sure as I can be about someone I never met) that he never would have brought this pain to his family if he’d had the slightest choice. Sure he could not help himself, or he would have.

But as a fan, all I really knew about him was his work, which I found riveting and honest. He never gave a poor performance, nor a boring one. Even in showy roles, he created a real person before your eyes. He was marvelous in everything: Capote, The Savages, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Flawless, Almost Famous

I saw him onstage twice in great plays, both times from the front row, and both times he was mesmerizing. That last play was Death of a Salesman, and critics were pretty much of a mind — he was excellent, yet too young to be playing Willie, a character too beaten by life to face another day.

Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose, not suicide. But I guess he also got to that point when he couldn’t face another day — and that point was the unknown second that he lost his sobriety, after decades clean.


That’s so frightening, the idea that someone in recovery is never safe. That his or her family can never draw a deep breath, can never relax and know trouble is past.


**This was supposed to be a ten minute Just Write post, but I’ve been sitting for far longer, just trying not to come off as a presumptuous idiot. Writing about someone I never met, about an addiction I’ve never experienced. I didn’t edit or write for more than ten minutes, I just stared at the screen slackjawed a lot. What the f*ck; I’m hitting print. 

***I plan on writing funny again at some point in the near future. No more posts about health insurance either.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

The Diamond in the Window February 5, 2014 at 8:32 am

I am so glad to be reading you again, and yeah—this one was a sucker punch. I am glad you wrote about it.


Andrea @ Maybe It's Just Me February 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm

I think it is more interesting to read things like what you have here that came from great thought and staring at the screen, than some of the knee jerk thoughtless things that are out there.


Suniverse February 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm

I’m still thinking about this. Not a big fan, honestly, but still sad about the whole thing. The idea that decades can go by and this need pulls you – that’s terrifying.


Betsy Klein February 24, 2014 at 6:54 pm

You’ve written a wonderful, touching, and insightful piece about this great actor. A terrible loss for his companion, children, family, friends, and fans.


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