Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been found dead of an apparent drug overdose. Hoffman was a gifted character actor who managed to straddle the big-budget realm of blockbusters like Mission: Impossible III, easy-going comedies like Almost Famous and The Big Lebowski, and challenging art-house flicks like Magnolia. He received the Academy Award for Best Actor for 2005’s Capote.
Recent reports indicated that Hoffman had been struggling with longstanding substance abuse problems, which could come as a surprise to those who only knew him in passing. We expect our drug overdose victims to be beautiful, gangly boys like Heath Ledger or Kurt Cobain, and for them to wear on their sleeve a sneering, heartbroken cynicism that they can only escape through a romance with the needle or the bottle.
Hoffman wasn’t one of those, physically or in his public profile. He was quick to smile, and his soft edges could make him easily mistakable for one of the amiable big men who lend easy contrast to the work of more serious, usually skinnier actors. But anyone paying attention knew that his soul was sharp and uncomfortable.
The project is much more than a typical high school production. The students, who come from throughout the Tampa Bay area to participate in REH’s Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute, tell their personal stories, which range from lighthearted and humorous anecdotes to serious topics such as suicide, eating disorders, cutting and LGBT themes.