60 Minutes: RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman
Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead on February 2 2014, and fans have been mourning the talented man. He passed from a suspected heroin overdose, and the 46-year-old had struggled with addiction in the past. During his lifetime, he managed to make some indelible memories for movie fans thanks to his talent and drive. Steve Kroft got to speak with him in 2006, shortly before Hoffman won an Academy Award for Capote. 60 Minutes revisited that interview in memory of the actor.
Hoffman told Kroft that an actor’s job is to make you believe that what is happening on the stage or screen is real, not make believe. He admitted that he was addicted to making that happen. In this eight-year-old interview, he hoped that audiences remembered his characters more than he remembered him.
60 Minutes: Philip Seymour Hoffman Career
He appeared in 40 films in 14 years leading up to 2006, becoming famous as a transformative character actor. There was The Talented Mr. Ripley, Scent of a Woman, and Boogie Nights, among many other notable roles. Kroft called him a man without vanity unless his role demanded it, and he was suspicious of the trappings of fame and celebrity, preferring to be anonymous.
“Part of doing my job is that they believe I’m someone else,” Hoffman said. “And if they start watching me and thinking about the fact that I got a divorce or something in my real life…I don’t think I’m doing my job.”
He said that people would project a star’s personal life onto the roles he or she takes, which was something he had noticed among friends who watched his work. He took on a daunting challenge as Truman Capote, following him as he wrote In Cold Blood.
60 Minutes: Philip Seymour Hoffman Capote Research
Capote was developed for the screen by Hoffman’s old friends, director Bennett Miller and screenwriter Dan Futterman. The trio had known one another since age 16, and the film put a strain on their friendship.
Hoffman said that as an actor, his body and attributes are the work itself, unlike with a tangible art form such as sculpture, writing or painting. That made the criticisms more personal, since you cannot separate yourself from your own voice.
The actor studied old tapes of Capote to pick up on his nuances, tics, and patterns. He was also concerned about navigating the line of “parody and perfection.” Hoffman said that Capote was too well-known and iconic for a bad performance to have gotten by them.
60 Minutes: Philip Seymour Hoffman Ambition
Hoffman said he identified with Capote’s ambition and drive. He grew up near Rochester, New York, and he was active in baseball and wrestling. Sidelined by a neck injury, he followed a classmate crush to the theater and the rest is history.
60 Minutes got to spend an unusual amount of time with Hoffman, who opened up about his insecurities and love of the form. He was obsessed with perfection and admitted that he could react badly if he felt he was not delivering his best.
However, Philip Seymour Hoffman said that he felt good about his 60 Minutes interview. Kroft pointed out a pivotal scene in Capote, when the title character faces the killers who are headed for their death sentences.
60 Minutes: Philip Seymour Hoffman Rehab
Once shooting on Capote was completed, Hoffman said he immediately switched out of character and left it behind forever, shedding the voice and mannerisms permanently. Kroft wondered why, and Hoffman said that it was a type of freedom.
Hoffman also spoke to 60 Minutes about his trip to rehab at age 22 for drugs and alcohol. “I liked it all,” he admitted. What drove him to stop? “I got panicked for my life,” he said. “I was so young…. I remember thinking, ‘There’s things I want to do, and I’m not going to do them if I keep doing this.’”
He did not get into details about rehab, though he said it gave him a break from his routine, letting him gain a new perspective on his life and goals. Hoffman won an Oscar for Capote and received three more nominations.
60 Minutes: Philip Seymour Hoffman Death of a Salesman
He also performed on the New York stage, and those close to him believed that he began drinking again while performing in Death of a Salesman in 2012. Shortly after, a return to heroin followed, and that set the course for the unexpected and dark turn of fate that ended his life.
Broadway went dark in his honor. “The best you’ll ever feel is when you’ve done a good job,” he said. “And that satisfaction is wonderful,” Hoffman had told 60 Minutes a few years ago. A good night’s sleep after a job well done, he said, was “as good as it gets.”