15 Most Iconic Philip Seymour Hoffman Movie Roles
As a lifelong movie enthusiast and one who has always been especially fond of Phillip Seymour Hoffman (both as an actor and a person), I was shocked and devastated, as most were, when I heard about his sudden death this past weekend. Naturally, the very first thing I wanted to do was write about him, his work, and his overall passion as an artist. Fittingly, I was asked to compile a list of his most memorable roles throughout his career.
While it was hard to narrow it down to just fifteen, I believe the films listed represent his finest work, movies that he’ll be remembered for a hundred years from now. Rest in Peace Phil, and I hope you approve of my selections.
15. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as Plutarch Heavensbee
If The Master was Hoffmans last great dramatic performance, The Hunger Games films would probably be considered his last great blockbuster performances.
Based on the bestselling book saga, The Hunger Games is the story of an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12–18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death.
In it, Phil plays Plutarch Heavensbee, one of the Games’s judges, and later shown to be the Head Gamekeeper, and even later on to be the leader of the rebellion within the districts. I guess it was a well-known fact that when you need an actor capable of juggling many faces convincingly, you call Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
14. Pirate Radio as The Count
A bit lighter in subject matter than Doubt or Capote, Pirate Radio is comedy set in 1966, telling the story of the fictitious pirate radio station “Radio Rock” and its crew of eclectic disc jockeys, who broadcast rock and pop music to the United Kingdom from a ship anchored in the North Sea while the British government endeavors to shut them down.
Hoffman plays “The Count”, the ships one and only American DJ, who’s known for being brash and always speaking his mind. My favorite scene of Phil’s in the movie is one in which he challenges a fellow shipmate to a game of chicken in defense of a younger shipmate’s honor.
The scene shows the two mean climbing an impossibly-high radio mast inch-by-inch, all the while taunting each other and questioning the brawn and overall manliness of the opponent. It’s one of the few instances that I’ve ever been driven to laughter by a Brit.
13. Patch Adams as Mitch
Patch Adams, while being a touchy story and a heartwarming film, is a movie that most don’t immediately associate with PSH.
It tells the story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams (played by Robin Williams) who pioneers the theory-and eventually the practice-that laughter is the best medicine, treating patients with kindness and laughter rather than pills and shots.
Phil doesn’t have a starring role (or arguably even a supporting role, really), and on the surface his character doesn’t seem largely significant. That being said, it is similar to his role in Scent of a Woman, in that his character brings context to the setting of the film.
We’re meant to see Patch as an academic outcast, someone who’s a brilliant medical mind and has enormous potential, but can’t seem to meld with the politics and culture of an upscale university. And who better to illustrate the contrast between silly and serious than Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (who, by the way, plays Patch’s college roommate and eventually his colleague and friend)? Check this one out, and bring the tissues.