Thank You, Mr. Hoffman. | Tarreyn Land: Thank You, Mr. Hoffman.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thank You, Mr. Hoffman.

I can assume that you all know about the tragic loss of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman this past Sunday.
When I saw the news notification pop up on my phone, I was startled at how affected I was by it. 
It's taken me the last few days to formulate my thoughts on this and make the decision to write about it.
There's nothing I can say that the New York Time hasn't said better, nor can I contribute to the conversation about his life, work, addiction and more in the way that people who knew him like Aaron Sorkin and David Edelstein can. 
All I can discuss is how it affected an admirer. 

I met Mr. Hoffman briefly when I was 16. 
(Excuse the poor picture-of-a-picture quality.)

I was at the full fledged height of drama-kid geekdom at the time, and he came to Tucson for a festival of his films.
With glee I attended, witnessing his chameleonic performances change and morph through a series of films from Owning Mahowny to Magnolia to The Big Lebowski. 

I listened to his Q&A at the edge of my seat, trying to think of the perfect thing to ask. I listened to all the other questions, tried to remember every sentence of his responses, and watched him kindly and humbly receive adoration from the audience.  
I couldn't wait to tell the thespian society that I'd actually talked to PSH! 
But then I choked and couldn't think of my own question, and the session ended. 

I'd lost my chance.

BUT THEN as I was leaving, I ran into him outside! AND he stayed and chatted with me for a bit and took the picture you see above.

He was just so NICE.

We even walked to our cars together, which happened to be parked near each other.
He said goodnight, and wished me luck in my dramatic pursuits. 

And I'll always remember him waving to me as he got in his car. 

Barely two years after this experience, he won his oscar for Capote

And the man on the screen with the high voice, tight neuroses, and strange movement was so different from the kind, rumpled man in the baseball cap I'd met. 
It was such a testament to his versatility and ability to embody something so different, so intangible, and I was so excited for his win. 
It felt like watching an old friend succeed. 

My next encounter with my buddy PSH was when Jake and I were in New York in 2012 and had the incredible opportunity to see him perform as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman. 

We had no idea at the time, of course, what a truly special experience we were gaining, in that this would become his Tony nominated performance as well as his last appearance on Broadway.  

We saw a matinee during previews (snagged the last 2 seats for only $50 a piece - a price that more than tripled after the reviews were in), and I won't lie and say it was flawless. 
There were definite bumps and things that I'm sure they remedied before opening, but one thing was clear - we were seeing someone on that stage who was an absolute master of their craft. 

We thought about waiting to see him, but as actors who know how precious that dinner break is between shows, we decided to leave him be. 
I'm so glad we did. 

It's so strange how affecting the death of someone you don't even know can be.

Artists become so seemingly accessible to the masses, and it's easy to feel connected to someone you've never met by how deeply you admire their work. 
It's easy to attach ourselves to things they say in interviews, or how they handle themselves on the red carpet, or the pictures we see of them in their daily life. ("Stars - they're just like us!")
As fans, we build deeply personal one-sided relationships with the media we consume, and it is a bizarre, delicate and personal process.

And when we lose them, the grief is real, even if our relationship wasn't.

And, as much as we grieve the loss of the person, we didn't really know them. We are mourning the figure, the idea, the artist. 
We, the admirers, agonize over the loss of things that haven't been created yet - the work they will never get to produce. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman was only 46, and I think we were all looking forward to many more years of dimensional characters, goose-bump performances, and new ways of looking at the human condition through his eyes. 

And though his years were too few, I am grateful for the joy and inspiration that they brought. 
And I'm grateful for the time he took to inspire and engage a geeky teenager almost a decade ago. We never truly know the impact we have. 

Thank you, Mr. Hoffman.


  1. I can't believe you met him, how amazing! So glad to hear he was really nice, I hate stories of celebs being jerks. I too was looking forward to many years of incredible performances from him :/
    Miche from Buttons and Birdcages

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! I too was looking forward to seeing more of his work :( But happy to have such good memories. Thanks again!

  2. Tarreyn, what a beautiful tribute. So glad you had that opportunity to chat with him so many years ago.

    1. Thank you, Trish! I do feel very lucky I got to chat with him. Thank you so much for your comment!

  3. i was also really surprised at how affected i felt by his death. he really was such an amazing actor. you are right, his acting is FLAWLESS. i believe he is one of the greatest actors of our time

    1. Thanks for your comment Lauren. Isn't it strange how affecting it can be?? I agree with you that he is one of the true greats. Speaking of Flawless, have you seen the movie with that title starring PSH? I haven't yet, but I hear it's amazing & it's on my list!