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February 3

The Associated Press/Sony Pictures Classics

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in “Capote.”

Five great Hoffman performances

By Jack Coyle
The Associated Press

“HARD EIGHT”: Hoffman’s least known performance for director Paul Thomas Anderson was also his first. In 1996’s “Hard Eight,” also titled “Sydney,” Hoffman plays a loud-mouthed, mullet-haired craps player who clashes with the more dignified gambler played by Philip Baker Hall. But he’s quickly won over by a ballsy bet, and cheerfully takes to calling him “Big Time.”

“JACK GOES BOATING”: Hoffman’s 2010 directorial debut, adapted from Robert Glaudini’s play, is the film I’m most moved to rewatch after his tragic death.

In it, he plays a painfully shy limo driver with the unlikely dream of working for the MTA. It’s the story of an exceptionally ordinary guy trying to improve himself.

Everything about the character and the film exudes the kind of downbeat modesty Hoffman prized.

“CAPOTE”: One occasionally wished Hoffman had more frequently taken on big parts like Truman Capote that more obviously showcased his tremendous talent. But though he gravitated more to regular guys, Hoffman’s dapper, brash Capote is a master class in how to play an icon.

Such roles are so often a collection of accent and manner — mere impression — but Hoffman’s Capote was a full, soulful portrait.

“HAPPINESS”: Hoffman had dangerousness in him, too. His peeping pervert in Todd Solondz’s 1998 drama was unforgettably daring. It remains one of the creepiest performances in American movies.

“THE SAVAGES”: In Tamara Jenkins’ 2007 film, Hoffman and Laura Linney play a brother and sister struggling with adulthood and their father’s decline in old age.

It feels like the epitome of a Hoffman film: a mix of comedy and tragedy told with subtlety, bone-dry humor and flashes of grace.



The Associated Press/Sony Pictures Classics/Overture Films/Twentieth Century Fox

Hoffman with Laura Linney in “The Savages”

The Associated Press/Overture Films

Hoffman with Amy Ryan in a scene from “Jack Goes Boating.”



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