ALLSTON – Following the tragic death of acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman on Sunday, acting major and self proclaimed ‘film buff’ Jimmy Handler (CFA ‘16) was wondering about the identity of the actor making national headlines.
“Who?” asked a visibly confused Handler, who was shocked to find that Hoffman, who had won an academy award for best actor in a lead role for his masterful performance in director Bennet Miller’s penetrating 2005 work, Capote. “I have never heard of him.”
“That’s strange,” said Handler, a sophomore in CFA who has played large roles in several student plays. “If this guy won an Oscar, you would think I’d have at least heard of him.”
Hoffman, an immersive and poignant actor who has delivered an impressive variety of ambitious roles throughout his lengthy career and always blended wonderfully into his characters to bring them to life was, apparently, “not even on [Handler’s] radar.”
“I guess he hasn’t been in anything by Martin Scorsese lately, or Quentin Tarantino, come to think of it.” said Handler, in reference to the actor whose diverse body of work ranged from iconic roles like Willy Loman on Broadway, to more subtly powerful performances in nuanced independent films like Synecdoche, New York.
“Was he in Silver Lining’s Playbook?” asked Handler, “or American Hustle? If not, it’s no surprise I’ve never heard of this B-lister.”
Handler continued to say that even if Hoffman had won an award, he was not consistently on his apartment’s Oscar Pool actor list. “I don’t know how good he was, but he obviously wasn’t on the level of the Pitts and DiCaprios, the Penns and the Francos.”
“Some actors just don’t have that X-Factor.” concluding Handler of the man, whom upon his death, the New York Times concluded “We did not lose just a very good actor. We may have lost the best one we had.“
At press time, Handler is still not convinced.
“However good this Hoffman guy was, he couldn’t possibly be on Bradley Cooper’s level. If he was, he would’ve been cast in a David O’Russell movie.”