Posts Tagged ‘Death of a Salesman’

NewsTalk 1010: Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman dead at 46 by Siobhan Morris

Hoffman at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014
(Danny Moloshok/AP)

Critically-acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died Sunday from a suspected drug overdose.

The 46-year-old was found dead in his Greenwich Village home in New York Sunday morning. Hoffman has three children with his partner of 15 years, Mimi O’Donnell.

Sources tell the Associated Press Hoffman had a syringe stuck into his arm when he was found by a friend who called 911. There were also envelopes of heroin in the apartment. An autopsy to determine Hoffman’s cause of death is expected to take place Monday.

Hoffman spoke candidly over the years about his past struggles with addiction. After 23 years sober, he admitted to falling off the wagon with prescription pills and heroin. That led to a stint in rehab.

In a 2011 interview with the Guardian, Hoffman described his addictions as “pretty bad”. “I had no interest in drinking in moderation. And I still don’t”, he told the paper. “Just because all that time’s passed doesn’t mean maybe it was just a phase.”

Hoffman’s family released the following statement Sunday afternoon.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers.”

Movie critic Richard Crouse told Newstalk 1010 Sunday Hoffman had “an incredibly diverse career and knocked it out of the park virtually every time.”

Hoffman won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in the 2005 biopic “Capote”. He received three nominations in the Best Supporting Actor category for The Master, Doubt and Charlie Wilson’s War.

Crouse says Hoffman brought a soulful-ness and a believability to his performances. “When you saw him on screen, there was nothing really false about it, you never really saw the acting.”

One of Hoffman’s breakthrough roles was as a gay member of a porno film crew in “Boogie Nights”, one of several movies Paul Thomas Anderson-directed movies that he would eventually appear in.

Hoffman often took on comic, slightly off-kilter roles in movies like “Along Came Polly”, “The Big Lebowski” and “Almost Famous”, in which he plays real life rock critic Lester Bangs. Crouse says Hoffman’s turn as Bangs is his favourite performance by the actor.

“He seems like such a huge part of it and he’s just such a great shining white light in the middle of this movie, even though it is a relatively small part. And that’s a testament to his talent”, says Crouse.

Hoffman was set to reprise his role as Plutarch Heavensbee in the next instalment of the “The Hunger Games” franchise, “Mockingjay. Showtime recently announced Hoffman would star in “Happyish,” a TV comedy series about a middle-aged man’s pursuit of happiness.

Crouse says in interviews, Hoffman wasn’t interested in talking about his craft as an actor, but would speak passionately about books.

Hoffman began his acting career on stage. He studied theatre as a teenager with the New York State Summer School of the Arts and the Circle in the Square Theatre. He then majored in drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Hoffman performed in revivals of “True West,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “The Seagull”, a summer production that also featured Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. In 2012, he was more than equal to one of the great roles in American theatre, Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman”.

Hoffman was three times nominated for a Tony, but never won.

he chose the road not taken and it’s made all the difference. Metro Nov. 21, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 12.56.14 PM“It was the idea of connecting with another human being at a deep level,” that attracted John Bourgeois to acting. “I think that is what all artists try to do. We try to penetrate and get through to other people. To feel connected,” says the veteran mainstay of stage and screen.

“I came from a loving but troubled family that experienced the usual catastrophes (drugs, alcohol, adultery, divorce, debt) so there’s wasn’t a lot of support for higher education or culture.”

“That said, when I told them I was going to be an actor they encouraged me to go for it. Both my mother and my father had searing regrets for the roads not taken so they didn’t want me to have the same experience.”

He came across his love of acting quite by accident while studying journalism at Concordia in Montreal.

“It wasn’t until I was in second year university and honestly I needed to do a course where I didn’t need to write a paper,” he says. “So I took an acting course on a Monday night. That was it. I was bitten. I did a scene from Death of a Salesman and it was transformational.

Around the same time he worked as a production assistant on a film called Blood Relatives and for the first time saw how a performance was created.

“I had been around actors in my younger life and I didn’t know what they did until I saw a specific performance. I saw it being created and I went, ‘I see what this person is doing and it is really quite a craft they have going there.’ It wasn’t just showing off.”

That actor was Donald Sutherland. “I was his driver on the movie. Sutherland is a very thoughtful person and his approach to his work was very thoughtful. That changed my view of the craft.”

Despite booking three plays in his final year of university and thinking, ‘How hard can it be to make a living at this?’ he says, “the struggle, at the start, it’s mostly a financial one. There’s always a danger that the hustle will distort your character. That very nearly happened but I was fortunate to meet some very honest and good people along the way who kept me from self-destructing. So yes, I would do it again.

“Being an actor means being a great observer and that’s a great angle from which to experience life. Besides, resistance sharpens the senses and makes us keenly aware of the passing moment. And surely being present and connecting with others is what it’s all about.”

That passion for acting and relating to audiences hasn’t dimmed over the course of 100 plus film, television and stage roles—“You have to wear a lot of different hats in order to make a decent living,” he says—but recently, in addition to co-starring with Whoopi Goldberg in the TV movie A Day Late and Dollar Short, he has discovered a new way to practice his craft.

“I came to teaching relatively late,’ he says of his job as program director of Acting for Film and Television at Humber College. “The biggest revelation to me is that it is as much a craft as any other you can think of. It is a form of performance. You’re standing in front of people, talking. What I have discovered, when you teach you discover stuff about your craft.

“It puts your own relationship to your craft under a magnifying glass and you become fascinated by what it is that frees up creativity in an actor, how you can equip them with the right toolbox to give them that sense of liberation in their work. It is immensely gratifying.”

With a lifetime of experience under his belt he has some great advice for his students.

“Don’t ever wait for the phone to ring,” he says, “That’s a waste of time and energy. Instead act. Anywhere and everywhere. Make your own work. Love the craft and above all protect your talent from the harsh realities of the business. Find ways to practice it. Train with leading practitioners like at Humber. Produce a play. Make a web series. Act. Do. Everything else is gossip.”


In his latest gig Ottawa-born actor John Bourgeois is stepping into some very big shoes. In the dramedy God of Carnage, now playing until December 15 at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto, he’s lawyer Alan Cowan, previously played by Jeff Daniels on Broadway and Christoph Waltz on film.

He’s seen both productions but says neither inspired him.  “I’ve been doing this for so long so I don’t find myself as easily influenced as I was when I was a young actor,” he says, his booming voice echoing down the line on a break from rehearsal. “I think young actors are more susceptible to those iconic influences.”

Instead, he drew on personal experience to build the character.

“I’ve known quite a few lawyers who are A type, personality driven, really competitive, hyper focused but sometimes they are a little socially tone deaf and that’s where I picked up Alan.”