Friday, March 7, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman & Truman Capote

A few days back, soon after the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I began taking mental snapshots of the actor's movie roles, or at least the movies I had seen.  Hoffman, much like Meryl Streep, was a brilliant character who could assume accents, facial tics, even mannerisms of the persons he was portraying on film.

He also portrayed Truman Capote, a writer who, for his time and a time, was the most famous writer in America--especially following the publication of his "non-fiction novel", In Cold Blood.  Writing this book about the Kansas family who were murdered in their home for $50 and change sent Capote into a death spiral of his own.  He never wrote another book after In Cold Blood, and for the rest of his life he lived off of the fumes of that work and the high-octane lifestyle of sex, drugs and alcohol . . . the latter of which eventually took his life.

Hoffman did a superb job of playing Capote, a writer whom many described as an average writer, but a writer who was famous for simply being famous.  Capote had a way of manufacturing his fame, and he was enamored of movie stars and the Hollywood lifestyle that eventually led to his demise.

I know I have read every published piece written by Capote, including his incompleted works.  He was an interesting writer, but his lifetime output was relatively small, though of certain quality and clout . . . and hence his place in American letters.

Now, when I think of Capote, I see Hoffman, too.  Some tragedies are two-fold.  I just wish both men had found a better way to deal with their inner demons.

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