Students react to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Ale Benjamin, Staff Writer

From a quirky author to a raunchy DJ to a plethora of comedic sidekicks, Philip Seymour Hoffman boasted a unique and varied repertoire of character portrayals, the likes of which few actors can match. Upon hearing of his death, students mourned a true loss.

Hoffman, esteemed by many for his capabilities, was found dead at 46 of an apparent heroin overdose in his Greenwich Village apartment on Sunday Feb. 2, various news organizations reported.

Hoffman’s rise to fame came while many students were still young, such as with his role in “The Big Lebowski” in 1998. However, many came to appreciate the actor as they grew older and his career flourished. Most recently, he has garnered student recognition for his role as Head Game Maker Plutarch Heavensbee in “Catching Fire,” the latest film in the popular “Hunger Games” series.

“I felt really upset that a part of the ‘Hunger Games’ family died,” Anna Daytz ’16, a fan of the series, said.

Daytz sympathized with the hardship the directors will have to face in navigating around Hoffman’s death in the plot.

“Either way, if they choose to get a new actor or drop important details, many fans will be very upset. It would be hard to find someone else to take his place, especially for the cast,” she said.

“I’m sure the producers are going to come up with something to keep the series strong and honor Hoffman properly,” Caitlin Hoberman ’14, another avid “Hunger Games” fan, said.

Another film that brings Hoffman’s name to the minds of the Staples community is “Capote,” a depiction of the life of famous “In Cold Blood” author Truman Capote. Capote himself was lionized as Dill in his friend Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” another Westport favorite that is required reading for all 8th graders. Hoffman’s enthralling lead performance as Capote won him an Oscar in 2006.

Incoming juniors taking AP English Language were assigned to watch “Capote” this past summer in conjunction with reading “In Cold Blood” to gain a deeper understanding of Capote’s personal involvement in the non-fiction novel’s gruesome storyline.

Students who were captivated by Hoffman’s transformative embodiment of Capote lament his death as a great loss.

“He helped me understand the author’s motivation behind every word in ‘In Cold Blood,’” Isabel Perry ’15 said. “You could tell that he conducted in-depth research of the character and was incredibly dedicated.”

Perry, a Players director and longtime Hoffman fan, recalled growing up with some of his earlier works such as “Along Came Polly” and “Patch Adams.”

“I was so intrigued by the vastly different characters he could portray,” Perry said. “As more and more reports [of his death] were published, I was deeply saddened.”

Another devoted fan and Players actor, Bryan Gannon ’14 noted feeling a slightly different onset of emotion when hearing of Hoffman’s death.

“I found it odd to be so saddened by the passing of a man I never knew. I realized that as I grow older, the deaths of people I admire strike a much more personal chord,” Gannon said. “As an aspiring actor myself, Philip Seymour Hoffman has long been a source of inspiration, [and] I’m thankful for the treasures he’s left behind.”