The Flawless Mr Hoffman

esq-philip-seymour-hoffman-1112-lgA year ago today the world lost one of the most incredible actors of our generation.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was 46 when he passed away. When I found out I was numb for a little while (but managed to write this the day after, though I can’t remember doing it). I felt numb in that way that you can only really articulate by saying “I can’t believe it” over and over. It is an odd feeling to grieve for someone you’ve never met, only admired on a big screen, but it is still genuine emotion.

This loss is a massive one. There is nothing more I can add to that. It’s all been said already.

But I wanted to mark this horrible anniversary with a celebration of some kind, rather than dwell on melancholy. There were times in my life when I was blown away by this man. He made me laugh and cry; and sometimes he scared me. I felt like he spoke to me on a personal level and I think that’s the beauty of a greatly talented person.

I believed him always.

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I’m hard pressed really to refine my favourite PSH moments. It would be very hard to narrow down my most loved performances to just a handful.

Well, sort of. I mean, of course he was exceptional as Truman Capote in Capote. He’s been great in nearly every film he put his name to (with a few exceptions), stealing scenes left right and centre.

But by far my favourite PSH turn is in Flawless. As Rusty, PSH took my admiration to a whole new level. This is how I choose to remember him, as the ballsy female impersonator with a whole lot of heart. (I reviewed the film a few years ago, here).

Rusty is the ultimate Groupie for the Underdog. Cheerleader for the brow beaten and the bullied. Fighting for the rights of the LGBT and being fucking fabulous while she does it. Reeling off one liners like rapid machine gun fire, she is exactly the kind of person you need in your life, and on your side.

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Rusty is the person she is because of all the things she’s been/is going through and is the sum of all her own insecurities, all her flaws. And that’s what makes her beautiful and strong.

I used to watch this movie religiously, at least once a month. I watched it not long after PSH died and it was hard to do. I still miss him.

So this year I’ll be respectfully remembering the man I loved for over a decade, who made even the smallest character study a fascinating one, who ruled every scene he was in.

To you, PSH, forever.

Uncle Robin 1951 – 2014

Robin-Williams-robin-williams-32089824-2798-3916Yesterday most of the world woke up to the news that Robin Williams had passed away.

I was in a decidedly un-glamorous place as I scrolled through Facebook and found out for myself (embarrassing source of all my news). My subsequent scream from the bathroom caused Mr Bee to get very annoyed when he realised I hadn’t just been injured or attacked.

It is always strange when a beloved celebrity passes away. This year we have already been rocked by the passing of another favourite, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and in similarly shocking circumstances (all still alleged). Hoffman from a heroin overdose in his own bathroom and now Williams, who is believed to have taken his own life.

It’s just so very sad. I guess when you think about death at a not even that old age, you hope for something quick and painless. Tragic, of course but natural. To consider the ongoing suffering of somebody famous for making others feel better is a bitter punchline in itself.

This morning as I was stomping around the park thinking about this subject and of what Robin meant to me, I got to thinking about the joke Rorschach tells in Watchmen:

I heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.” Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.

Moral of the story: you never know.

Now, I don’t feel qualified to comment on what sort of torment must lead a person to such a hopeless place. I don’t think it’s the cowards way out though.

I know a few things about mental illness and depression, I know a bit about addiction but all my experience is second hand. I know it’s serious and that we should be able to talk about it openly, without judgment and help should be readily available. It goes further than that though and I understand this.

I just feel incredibly sad. I feel as though the world will genuinely have an empty hole in it now. Robin always felt like an uncle to me and when we spoke about him, Mr Bee and I called him ‘Uncle Robin’.

Had he been my real uncle (and I do love my actual uncles), I imagine Robin would have been able to fix anything with a hairy armed bear hug. Nothing could be bad within that embrace and nothing would ever light up the room like that smile. That laugh.

Now this is my fantasy, of an uncle I’ll never have but I’m sure his own children felt that way about him. I’m sure his friends, his wife, all his loved ones felt that way too. I hope he’s at peace now.

Rest easy, Peter Pan.