Since I saw that Philip Seymour Hoffman, my favourite actor, was dead on the television news-ticker this morning, my mind has kept hiccuping: PSH is dead! Initially the hiccups were strong and happened every five minutes; by now, they’re less frequent and less violent.
Is it grief I feel when a celebrity I admire dies? Is it a less intense version of what happens when someone I know dies? Or something else entirely, given the ‘relationship’ with the celebrity runs only one way? I don’t know.
(Note on the news ticker, saying ‘breaking news’: it was a delayed broadcast from the east, three hours old, and the presenters didn’t even know about it, the news hadn’t hit them yet. This is what happens when WA is three hours behind the east: sometimes a time bubble opens up, and one becomes aware of watching something from the past, different in an important way to the present.)
Hoffman was amazing – he appears in so many of my favourite films, lighting up so many of them. We watch him age in Synecdoche, New York, and it feels like we have followed him through a lifetime. We want him to be innocent in Doubt. We live in fear of him in Punch-Drunk Love. I don’t think it’s going too far to say he was the quintessential face of film in the first thirteen years of the century.