I was saddened to hear the passing of a great actor a couple of days ago. I remember first seeing Phillip Seyour Hoffman, at least that I can easily remember and recognize, as the roommate to Patch Adams in the movie of the same name. He was a jerk, who came around after a while. It wasn’t a big role but I remember feeling impressed by him. Then I saw him again as the sleazy pastor in “Cold Mountain.” Again, a tough and smaller role but Hoffman was amazing.
I haven’t seen as many of his other roles as I would have liked and I’ll still have to get around to seeing those films for the simple fact I always hear good things about him as a character actor. When I heard of his passing, I couldn’t imagine what would take him at such a young age (he was only 46). It never occurred to me that it could be drugs. I never heard of him having problems so it was surprising to hear that once it came to light.
I read an article the other day about him, an opinion piece, talking about how unfortunate it is to have lost him and that he was a wonderful actor. I then did the stupid thing. I decided to read comments from readers. I know by now that I shouldn’t do this because more times than not, people are ignorant, mean, insensitive and a litany of other not-so-good things. This article was no different.
The number of comments about how he wasn’t “lost” or “taken” too soon because of the drugs was astounding. I get it. Hoffman essentially killed himself with his bad habit, but to discredit his life or talent because of something he couldn’t overcome is unjust, unfair, and quite frankly, not right. He was a human being first and foremost. He was a father next and lastly an actor. People tend to reverse that order. They were talking about him as only an actor. Somehow because he made a lot of money and was famous, that means he’s not supposed to have problems. I admit, it’s hard to see all problems celebrities may have because they do have a lot of money and they don’t face the issues we do. That doesn’t mean they don’t have problems though. That doesn’t exempt them from being human and making all the same mistakes the rest of us make. Celebrities are NOT superhuman and are NOT above the same laws of humanity that the rest of us have to adhere to daily.
There are also folks who complain about how much media attention celebrities get when they die versus our heroes and sheroes of the military overseas. I get it. My only counter-point to that though is while celebrities shouldn’t get more attention, they shouldn’t be counted as less than human either. They do provide us with a chance to escape our lives for a couple of hours at a time and that does mean something. Maybe it’s not the same as those who sacrifice life and limb, and often a soul, to protect us and ensure our freedoms, but that talent and ability does still mean something. Again, celebrities are human also. They are loved and missed by family just as much as the next person so while they shouldn’t be favored, they shouldn’t be ignored either. No one person’s life means more than another.
I hope that people learn to remember all human life has value. Please remember to love more and judge less. A drug problem doesn’t make a person less valuable. I’m not saying it’s easy to deal with someone who has that type of problem, I’m only saying that life still has value. It’s easy to want to say “well he deserved it,” or that “he had it coming,” etc., but we don’t know that. We don’t know his struggles, we don’t know what put him in a position to feel that drugs was the answer. It’s not our place to say we do either.
I loved his movies, well, the ones I’ve seen. It’s incredibly unfortunate that he couldn’t rise above his drug addiction. I hope he’s able to find some peace now.