The Boyfriend of the Week
February 4, 2002
I'm sure 75% of you saw the picture of this week's Boyfriend up there and exclaimed, "We had to wait an extra week for THAT guy?" And about 20% of you then added the additional phrase: "Who IS that guy?!"
The bad news is, he's not ex-Boyfriend Brad Pitt. The good news is, he's not ex-Boyfriend Brad Pitt! He's far more interesting, even though his butt isn't quite as cute. And since this is my web site and my goal is to educate as well as entertain, I felt it was about time we had somebody interesting up here. Somebody different. Somebody intense. Somebody I'm attracted to on a variety of levels, only some of them superficial. Somebody like [insert drumroll here]. . . Philip Seymour Hoffman!
I got bit by the Phil Bug about a year or so ago when I saw "Almost Famous" for the first time. Before that, I'd seen him in multiple films, but he hadn't really made much of an impact on me. At least, that's what I thought. But that's not actually true. In fact, as I discovered when I started to think about making him a Boyfriend, it's not true at all. Because as I thought back over all the PSH movies I've seen over the years, I realized that I could remember who he was in every single one of them. His characters in those movies stood out so much they stuck around in my brain - details about them, their personalities, their relationships with others on-screen. This is extremely unusual - I can't think of another Boyfriend, actually, who has made this kind of an impact on me. Another Boyfriend who, upon perusal of their IMDB page, didn't lead to a single exclamation of "He was in THAT?!"
This is not the same as saying he's only ever made great movies. In fact, there are a couple of movies in Phil's list that I didn't like at all. But in every single one of them, he is amazing. He's never the same person twice. He's played dozens of different kinds of people and everyone of them was wholly believable. Wholly developed. Complete.
But it was really "Almost Famous" that made me love him first. His character in that, Lester Banks, is just wonderful. Though he's not a main character, he totally stole the movie, in my humble opinion. And he definitely has some of the greatest lines in the history of film, my favorite being:
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool."
As someone who is the very acme of unhip, and someone who spends a lot of her time either hanging out with cool people or writing about them, it was nice to hear uncoolness spoken about with such reverence. And, even better, to hear it be revered by someone who is, in my opinion, the hippest actor in film today. Know what I mean? Of course you do - if you're reading this, you're just as big a dork as I am! Um, no offense or nuthin'.
What makes Philip Seymour Hoffman so cool? Well, for one thing, it's his movies. Not his Hollywood ones like "Twister," but his decidedly anti-Hollywood ones like, "Happiness." "Happiness" was actually the first PSH movie I ever saw and it's one that has stayed with me over the years as an example of a movie that can say more about people in a single scene than most movies manage to sputter out in two hours. In "Happiness," Philip plays Allen, a man who both fears and craves intimacy (not just sexual intimacy, though that's sort of the focus) to such an extreme he ends up being the kind of man you want to find disgusting but can't bring yourself to reject. For a movie titled "Happiness," it's pretty much a complete downer. But it's one of the most powerful performances Phil has ever made. You know, in my getting-less-and-less-humble-as-I-go-along-here opinion.
Some of his other movies weren't quite as masterful. In fact, some of the characters Phil had to play in them would've been reduced to cliché had anybody other than Phil been cast (in my downright-arrogant opinion). But instead, he took those roles (in movies like "Patch Adams" and "Flawless," for example) and turned them into people with depth beyond their scripted dialogue. The snobby medical student, the drag queen - they became bigger when Phil stepped into their shoes. And not just because, at least in "Flawless," those shoes were two-inch heels.
I read an interview with Philip the other day on the web wherein he said, "A lot of people describe me as chubby, which seems so easy, so first-choice. Or stocky. Fair-skinned. Tow-headed. There are so many other choices. How about dense? I mean, I'm a thick kind of guy. But I'm never described in attractive ways. I'm waiting for somebody to say I'm at least cute. But nobody has." I find this quote particularly ironic considering what I'm about to say. I know Philip Seymour Hoffman isn't what the average American woman would describe as handsome. But I have to admit, I think he's GORGEOUS. I love how big he is - he's only an inch taller than I am, but he's got the kind of body that's good for cuddling on sofas with. And I love his smile. His hair. His eyes, which get all shiny when he's excited about something. I love how soft he can make his face look when he wants to. Oh my god, and here he is saying he thinks nobody thinks he's cute! If ever it were time to actually track down one of my Boyfriends for real and pass this message along to them, this feels like the time. Phil! I think you're a babe! Call me!
Hey, speaking of Boyfriends finding out what I think of them, it might interest some of you to know that my write-up on Chris Noth was recently quoted in an article in the magazine "Elle Canada." And not only quoted, but quoted because it was being READ to Chris Noth in an interview! His response, and I love this, was "Who IS that woman?" Ha HA! That woman c'est moi! And how cool is that?? Anyway, if you live in Canada, run out and grab the January 2002 issue before it's off the shelves. And then run back out in May and grab the May issue, in which the editor-in-chief has promised me she will print a correction (the article's author kept refering to my site as the "This Week's Boyfriend" site instead of the "Boyfriend of the Week" site - even though the title of the site is RIGHT THERE IN BIG LETTERS at the top of the page - how's that for crack reporting?). I am also hoping she'll print my apology to Chris for all the things I said about his nose. Luf, I had no idea you were actually going to READ that. Honestly. I feel bad. Email me so I can apologize in person?
Alas, I digress (as shameless self-promotion strikes again!)
A little biography on this week's Boyfriend: Philip Seymour Hoffman was born on July 23, 1967 in Fairport, New York. In school, he was a jock - a baseball player (second base and shortstop - sexy!). But when he got to high school, he got sidetracked when, on the way to baseball try-outs, he crossed paths with a cute girl headed for the auditorium to try out for the school play ("The Crucible"). As she walked by, his head turned, and then so did the rest of him, and before he knew it, he had landed the part of the "drunken jailer" and his entire plan for his life changed for good.
After high school, he studied at NYU's Tisch School and did a lot of theater work. His first movie was "Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole," which I tried to rent but couldn't find (this may or may not be a good thing). In 1992, however, he got his first role in a major film, "Scent of a Woman," starring Al Pacino and ex-Boyfriend Chris O'Donnell. After that, he starred in a mash-mish of stuff, including "Nobody's Fool" (with Paul Newman), "When a Man Loves a Woman" (with Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia), "Twister," "Boogie Nights" (in which he gets to smooch Marky Mark - lucky guy), "The Big Lebowski," "Magnolia," and "The Talented Mr. Ripley." (Note, I'm only listing the movies I've seen - he was in a lot of other stuff too). In every one of these movies, he was my favorite character. In a few of them, he was the only good thing about the whole flick (he loved "Magnolia," but I have to admit I thought it was overdone to the point of silliness - sorry, Phil). If asked, I could tell you anything you wanted to know about any of these characters; I remember them all so vividly.
And this certainly bodes very well for his future - I can't be the only person out there who has been so dramatically impressed by his talent (though according to him, I'm the only person out there who has called him cute, something for which I hope I've scored some points I can put to good use later). I was surprised and pleased to discover, for one thing, that he's already been cast in the remake of Michael Mann's old movie "Manhunter" (which starred ex-Boyfriend "a href="williampeterson.html">William Peterson). "Manhunter" is a fairly decent flick, but in the hands of a new cast and director, I think it has a lot more potential. It's based on a Thomas Harris novel called "Red Dragon" (which is the title of the remake as well, by the way) and is the first in the set of three Harris novels featuring Hannibal Lector. So, of course, this remake will feature Anthony Hopkins reprising that role. But also Edward Norton and future Boyfriend Ralph Fiennes. As a lover of mysteries, I can hardly wait. As a lover of CUTE men named "Phil," I can hardly contain the drool.
I have to confess I am anxiously awaiting his next anti-Hollywood picture, "Love Liza," as well, and not for the reason I just stated above (i.e. big-screen-sized cuteness). "Love Liza" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival a few weeks ago to rave review and is about a man who loses his wife and, in his grief, becomes addicted to sniffing gasoline. Not only am I intrigued because it sounds like a movie with a lot of emotional intensity (something at which Phil excels - just rent "Magnolia" some time to see what I mean), but as someone who relishes the odor of gasoline (seriously - I live to fill my gas tank), I'm curious to see how this pathology is played out on-screen. I'll keep you posted, if I can tear myself away from the pumps long enough to get to the theater (no, no, I'm just kidding. Chris Noth, if you're reading this, I'm really not that nuts. But gasoline DOES smell good. Don't you think?)
Incidentally, Philip was just featured on the great Bravo show, "Inside the Actor's Studio" last week (ding! ding! ding! Nobody got this correct!) and though I thought I'd spare you from having to read all the stuff he said that I wrote down (the show is essentially an interview with an actor about acting), I thought you might enjoy seeing his answers to James Lipton's questionnaire. Here are Phil's answers (direct quotes are in quotation marks -paying attention, Stephen Ambrose?):
What is your favorite word?
"Okay" (when spoken to soothe, as in "It's okay")
What is your least favorite word?
"Relax" (when used to dismiss a concern, as it, "hey, reLAX!")
Out of everything in the whole wide world, what turns you on?
"When you are just going through your day and all of a sudden you run into somebody's who's just nice because they want to be - that's just like such a buzz!"
What turns you off?
"When people think they have the right to somehow let their baggage be your news."
What is your favorite noise or sound?
Humming to himself when he's alone. (I love that answer!)
What noise do you hate?
Car alarms. (I love that answer, too!)
What profession other than yours would you like to be in?
What profession would you not like to be in?
If Heaven exists, what do you want to hear God say when you get to the Pearly Gates?
(Spoken like a director), "All right [clap], let's do it again. . ."
Oh yes, and again, and again, and again, I hope.
MacGyver Factor Score: 98.657%. Points off for saying you thought the meaning of the frog scene in "Magnolia" was obvious. Pfft!
PHil's IMDB Page
The Phil Metro Site
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Salon.com's PSH articles
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