A man with a face like a proud walrus, Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of the most commanding and engaging on-screen presences that this generation of film fans have had the pleasure of experiencing. Moving seamlessly from intensely personal, idiosyncratic roles in independent features to bold, aggressive and often hilarious roles in more mainstream Hollywood material, Mr. Hoffman is always breaking expectation. In spite of some seriously high profile roles his career has never quite escalated to A-list stardom alongside the likes of the “decent actors” list of Hollywood favourites such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis or Matt Damon.
Hoffman’s consistent selection of roles which reject playing to type have rendered him not only one of the most versatile actors the cinema has ever seen but also one of the most unique. As such, it only seems appropriate to pay tribute to this acting giant with a list of his ten best roles. Obviously, as is the nature of such articles, there will be omissions and disagreements amongst readers but I welcome discussion/comments below. It’s also worth noting that this is a selection of his best roles, not necessarily the best films he has been in. So, here we go…
10. Freddie Miles in The Talented Mr. Ripley
Alongside his performance in Twister, Hoffman’s role as Freddie in The Talented Mr. Ripley was one of the first films to truly put him on the map. While the film itself revolves around the relationship between Jude Law and Matt Damon’s characters, Hoffman arguably steals every scene he appears in. Playing a nasty, self-obsessed and vindictive yuppie who oozes a sense of selfish nonchalance, Hoffman creates a penetratingly unpleasant character in Freddie Miles. He carries off the role with characteristic subtlety and comfort, moving around the screen with a serpentine heir of superiority that solidifies this performance in one’s memory and also of course onto this list.
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