The Obvious Question: Did Philip Seymour Hoffman Have Low Self-Esteem?

San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle wonders whether Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead yesterday, was exquisitely skilled at portraying awkward, sad, tormented characters because the actor himself had low self-esteem:

“He most often played people who were either alienated or had recreated themselves out of profound sense of alienation. Indeed, if you’re looking for a common thread in the work of this versatile and multifaceted actor, that might be it. From the shy teacher in ’25th Hour’ to the self-styled religious leader in ‘The Master’ to the second violinist in ‘The Last Quartet,’ he played lonely men who had made some uneasy accommodation with the surrounding world.

“He understood flaws. He most certainly understood darkness, particularly the kind of darkness that could restructure itself as creativity. Think of him as the political fixer in ‘The Ides of March’ or as the volatile government agent in ‘Charlie Wilson’s War.’ One must assume this darkness was also within Hoffman himself and this disturbance was part of his gift. For sure, he often exuded a lack of ease in his own skin, a submerged self-hatred. Was this real? One sensed it was, though perhaps it was just the movies.”



The Obvious Question: Did Philip Seymour Hoffman Have Low Self-Esteem? — 40 Comments

  1. How can a person maintain low self-esteem in the face of four Oscar nominations, universal praise, and millions of dollars?

    I suspect that, like most Hollywood stars, he loved himself. He was just such a good actor that he looked fragile.

    He died because he was an addict. He was an addict because of biological reasons, not because he was trying to “self-medicate.”

    • Just because he had four Oscar nominations and millions of dollars doesn’t mean that he can’t have low-self esteem. If anything, think about it, maybe he felt like a failure because he ONLY had nominations. Maybe with all of his millions he probably felt ugly, or unloved, or felt like he couldn’t trust any one around him. Maybe his family was not supportive.

      Just because a person has a luxurious life doesn’t always mean they are happy. In fact, some of the most famous people in the world may feel empty. That is why some of them burn themselves out trying to stay or top or be the richest because they have an emptiness in them that they are trying to fill.

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