In Memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman: 6 Valuable Lessons - Raindance

Philip-Seymour-Hoffman_lThink back to the first time you saw Philip Seymour Hoffman act and let it sink in for a moment. I first saw him in Mission Impossible III in 2006 and I will never forget holding my breath as he counted to 10 letting Ethan Hunt know that he would murder his girlfriend if he didn’t get what he wanted. I was mesmerized; how could such an evil and cruel character instantly become my favorite in the film? The answer: the brilliant and versatile artist that was Philip Seymour Hoffman. While he sadly passed away due to an apparent drug overdose yesterday, the 2nd of February, at the age of 46, I tried to find the silver lining as a devoted fan and an aspiring actress. Here are 6 things I believe aspiring actors can learn from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman:

capote1. Research

Philip Seymour Hoffman was known for his brilliant, emotional, heart-wrenching performances and for throwing himself deeply into his characters. He won 23 accolades for his performance in Capote (2005) including an Oscar for Best Actor and it might be attributed to his in-depth research:

[On Capote (2005)] I knew that it would be great, but I still took the role kicking and screaming. Playing Capote took a lot of concentration. I prepared for four and a half months. I read and listened to his voice and watched videos of him on TV. Sometimes being an actor is like being some kind of detective where you’re on the search for a secret that will unlock the character. With Capote, the part required me to be a little unbalanced, and that wasn’t really good for my mental health. It was also a technically difficult part. Because I was holding my body in a way it doesn’t want to be held and because I was speaking in a voice that my vocal cords did not want to do, I had to stay in character all day. Otherwise, I would give my body the chance to bail on me. -Hoffman

2. Do It Because You Love It

While some aspiring actors are motivated by the promise of money and fame, Philip Seymour Hoffman set the record straight on why one SHOULD want to act:

Study, find all the good teachers and study with them, get involved in acting to act, not to be famous or for the money. Do plays. It’s not worth it if you are just in it for the money. You have to love it. -Hoffman

3. Know When To Say No

Sometimes it’s hard to say no. Ultimately, if you stick to your guns, you have the career that you want. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good payday and I’ll do films for fun. But ultimately my main goal is to do good work. If it doesn’t pay well, so be it. -Hoffman

The Big Lebowski (1998), Capote (2005), Doubt (2008), and Money Ball (2011) are just a few of the amazing quality films that Hoffman was involved in. He took on challenging roles, knew when to say no and will be remembered in film history for that.

on stage4. “Play It Up”

Many actors and actresses start out in the theatre and tend to forget their roots once they find success in films. Theatre and film are two different mediums, and while film can be a wonderful and magical experience, there’s also something very special about only having one take to get it right. Hoffman defined it perfectly:

Doing a play is good for me because it’s a nice change from being on a movie set. I try to do a play every year because it just invigorates me. -Hoffman

5. Be Open

The greatest actors open themselves up and take chances by being vulnerable:

I’m probably more personal when I’m acting than at any other time. More open, more direct. Because it allows me to be something that I can’t always feel comfortable with when I’m living my own life, you know? Because it’s make- believe. -Hoffman

concentrate6. Concentrate

Think back to Mission Impossible III when Hoffman played the devious Owen Davian or his brilliant turn in the recent Hunger Games: Catching Fire(2013). Every time, he graced the screen, it appeared that he did so almost effortlessly. However, according to the phenomenal actor, it took and should always take a huge amount of effort.

To have that concentration to act well is like lugging things up staircases in your brain. I think that’s a thing people don’t understand. It is that exhausting. If you’re doing it well, if you’re concentrating the way you need to, if your will and your concentration and emotional and imagination and emotional life are all in tune, concentrated and working together in that role, that is just like lugging weights upstairs with your head..And I don’t think that should get any easier-Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s legend will continue to live on through his amazing body of work and will surely inspire actors to keep growing and learning their craft. Our thoughts are with all of his friends, family, and fans.  May he R.I.P.

What are you favorite Hoffman roles? Let us know below.