Acting with Philip Seymour Hoffman – A Tribute

Hi Film Folk,

Like the rest of the entertainment industry and the movie-loving world, The Film Doctor Team have been shocked and saddened by the passing of a screen legend, Philip Seymour Hoffman, at such a young age.

So this week’s Monday Prescription will be “In Memoriam” for one of acting’s greats, a sharing of his thoughts and feelings on the craft he loved so dearly.


Film Doctor - Philip Seymour Hoffman

Here are some top Hoffman quotes, which we shall leave without comment/interpretation:


On the Demands of Acting

“In my mid-20s, an actor told me, ‘Acting ain’t no puzzle.’ “I thought: ‘Ain’t no puzzle?!?’ You must be bad! You must be really bad, because it is a puzzle. Creating anything is hard. It’s a cliché thing to say, but every time you start a job, you just don’t know anything. I mean, I can break something down, but ultimately I don’t know anything when I start work on a new movie. You start stabbing out, and you make a mistake, and it’s not right, and then you try again and again. The key is you have to commit. And that’s hard because you have to find what it is you are committing to.”


On Going Method for Capote

“Playing Capote took a lot of concentration. I prepared for four and a half months. I read and listened to his voice and watched videos of him on TV. Sometimes being an actor is like being some kind of detective where you’re on the search for a secret that will unlock the character. With Capote, the part required me to be a little unbalanced, and that wasn’t really good for my mental health. It was also a technically difficult part. Because I was holding my body in a way it doesn’t want to be held and because I was speaking in a voice that my vocal cords did not want to do, I had to stay in character all day. Otherwise, I would give my body the chance to bail on me.”


On Creativity

“Creating something is all about problem-solving.”


On Films as the Truth

“Films are always a fiction, not documentary. Even a documentary is a kind of fiction.”


Meryl Streep on Philip Seymour Hoffman

“Philip is not particularly any one way, which means he can be anybody at all. One of the most important keys to acting is curiosity. I am curious to the point of being nosy, and I think Philip is the same. What that means is you want to devour lives. You’re eager to put on their shoes and wear their clothes and have them become a part of you. All people contain mystery, and when you act, you want to plumb that mystery until everything is known to you.”


On Editing

“The film is made in the editing room. The shooting of the film is about shopping, almost. It’s like going to get all the ingredients together, and you’ve got to make sure before you leave the store that you got all the ingredients. And then you take those ingredients and you can make a good cake – or not.”


A Final Word

“I think you should be serious about what you do because this is it. This is the only life you’ve got.”


RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman 1967-2014

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The Film Doctor Team
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One thought on “Acting with Philip Seymour Hoffman – A Tribute

  • February 3, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Really sad news. I was only watching him in The Hunger Games the night before I heard the news.


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