The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman hurts like few recent celebrity passings I can think of. Well, like one of them: the death last summer of James Gandolfini. Both Hoffman and Gandolfini were fantastic actors, the sort of faces who’d make you say, “Hmm, maybe I’ll have to see that,” when they popped up in trailers. Both doted on their young children, and it stings to think about them right now.
But Gandolfini, for all his greatness, will forever be linked to one role. He spent eight years playing Tony Soprano, and that was after a couple years of typecasting as Italian-American Tough Guy No. 6. If you comb through social media today, you see movie fans tearing up over Hoffman and rarely focusing on any one role. The man could play psychopathic toughs (Mission Impossible III), frustrated artists (Synecdoche, New York), sociopathic intellectuals (The Master), gay intellectuals (Capote), gay spazes (Boogie Nights) slobs (Along Came Polly), and jerks (Hard Eight).