Philip Seymour Hoffman Interview
Mission Impossible 3
Hollywood – For all who have followed Philip Seymour Hoffman’s film career, it has been an exciting journey. "Multiply that by one thousand, for me," says Hoffman, recently, at the Chateau Marmont, when I speak with him after his Oscar win for the mesmerizing and stunning portrayal of the late, effete and gay, Truman Capote – an icon of his era, for the middle years of his life, at least.
"Capote" was one of those small films – a film that cost next to nothing to make – that was so good, in every sense of the word, that it found an audience of film lovers and the Academy found it, nominating it for a plethora of Oscars, including Best Picture and Director.
Hoffman’s win for Best Actor, however, is the real prize, because without Hoffman, there would have been no "Capote" on the big screen.
The naturally quiet, yet genius actor, Hoffman, who was born in the New York and spent much of his youth acting, is not one to brag. In fact, during all of the press for "Capote," late last year and early this year, there was little made about Hoffman’s role with "Capote," other than actor.
"I produced ‘Capote.’ I was very hands-on with the film. Coopers Town is my production company," he tells me when I press him for information about his extended involvement with "Capote."
"But the movie was never about me. It was collaboration. And I think that showed on screen. From Bennett’s [Miller] Academy Award nominated direction, to Dan’s [Futterman’s] Academy Award nominated screenplay, to Catherine’s [Kenner] Oscar nominated performance. To the entire team, everyone who worked on the film, being shown recognition with a Best Picture nomination."
At the moment, Hoffman is batting 1000. One Oscar nomination. One Oscar win. But that could change next year, when the next round of Academy Award nominations are announced.
Hoffman’s role in the soon-to-be-released "Mission Impossible 3" is another role Hoffman may have been born to play.
"I play the bad guy," Hoffman says, admittedly one of Hollywood’s least sexy men, with a grin, not revealing much. He, along with the rest of the cast were sworn to secrecy, and can’t say anything about their roles to anyone, on the record, for fear of being sued by the litigious Tom Cruise, who in addition to starring in, is also producer of "Mission Impossible 3."
However, on the condition of anonymity, one of the other stars of "Mission Impossible 3," spoke to me off the record, right after the film was finished shooting and told me that "if Philip [Seymour Hoffman] doesn’t win Best Supporting Actor next year, there is something wrong with the voting process at the Oscars. I have never seen anyone play bad so good."
Time will tell about Hoffman’s chance of keeping his 1000 batting average. The next Oscars are a long way off – February 25, 2007.
The two-time Tony Award nominee, for acting, not only loves being on stage, in front of an audience but also directing theater productions. It just so happens, Hoffman is the first director that Anna Paquin, now a Broadway regular, had on stage.
"A lot of people who don’t follow theater would be surprised at how many film actors have made the switch to stage, who haven’t made a movie since discovering the theater. Some continue to make movies, yes, like Julia Roberts and Ralph Fiennes. But others, big movie stars of the 80s and 90s, like Christian Slater and even Anna Paquin, seem to be finding it more enjoyable and rewarding on stage. I don’t think you could pull Christian Slater off stage if you tried, at the moment. He is just so happy on stage."
The now thirty-nine year old actor who has embodied so many troubled souls on film – the drag queen Rusty Zimmerman in "Flawless," the crazy Freddie Miles in "The Talented Mr. Ripley," the drug addicted, drunk pedophile in Spike Lee’s "The 25th Hour," the sexually deprived Allen in Todd Solodnz’s masterpiece "Happiness," the unforgettable Scotty J. in "Boogie Nights" and on and on – is glad that the "Capote" hullabaloo is over.
"It was a nonstop whirlwind, world tour, that ‘Capote,’" laughs Hoffman. "It seemed like every time I turned on a talk show, I was looking at myself."
Hoffman, who was addicted to drugs and alcohol for much of his teens and early twenties, and who plays drunks and druggies so well in many of his most notorious roles, gave up both when he turned twenty-two. "I think I would have drank myself to death, literally, if I didn’t just stop, once and for all when I did," says Hoffman. "I am not ever going to preach to anyone about drugs or drinking. But, for me, when they were around, I had no self control."
Hoffman, who is glad to have been able to catch his breath, somewhat, during the past two months, is currently working on a new film, expected in theaters in 2007, opposite Laura Linney, entitled "The Savages."
"Its not really about savages, but ‘The Savages,’ the family, who can get quite savage at times," explains Hoffman. "It’s a small film about a sister, Laura Linney, and a brother, me, who get to know each other better while taking care of their aging and ailing father, who is played by Philip Bosco."
Laura Linney is a two-time Oscar nominee, so get your bets in early about "The Savages" also being an Oscar contender for its stars.
"I have nothing else lined up for the big screen, at the moment," says Hoffman.
"Although," he adds, and pauses. "That movie I did, the movie based on the TV show ‘Strangers With Candy,’ finally comes out this summer, I am told. That was a lot of fun to work on. I only have a cameo in the movie but it is so much fun to watch. Amy Sedaris is probably the best female comedienne living today. You need to see the movie if not just for her."
We look forward to Hoffman’s recommendation and also to our scheduled interview with Ms. Sedaris, (the sister of the equally talented David), closer to the "Strangers With Candy" late summer release.
Top photo: Philip Seymour Hoffman in a scene from Mission Impossible 3
Middle photo: Hoffman immediately following his Golden Globe win for Capote
Bottom photo: Hoffman in a scene from Boogie Nights