a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

CapoteI didn’t know Robin Williams. I never had him as a guest on my show. But the seismic impact of his death put me all too much in mind of another shocking seemingly self-inflicted tragedy.

That of the OD of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Phillip, I knew. We looked so much alike, as I have noted before, and I interviewed him more than once and talked to him many times at press events. He always seemed to be nearby.

And the world, and especially, the Show Biz world. My world? Reacted very profoundly to Williams’ horrible manner of passing. It seemed incomprehensible because everything you read about him, and certainly his many, many performances over many decades, seemed to convey joy. And of course, laughter. And well, his exit is not funny, by any means.

And now comes the news of his having Parkinson’s disease, which makes this tragedy a bit more comprehensible. He knew what he was doing. His wife says he was sober. This suicide was a conscious decision on his part, something he had to do. And no one can stop a determined suicide victim. He HAS to go. So he goes…and clearly Williams didn’t care the last image of himself that is now stamped invariably on all his comic antics. It’s so sad. But it was what he wanted to do. And he did it.

Everybody has been asking me about him and his death as if I KNEW him. I’ll say again, I only knew his work. Which I loved.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the more I think about it, must’ve been so out of his mind on smack that he may not have known exactly when he crossed that line of death. I don’t think he has trying to kill himself. Not in the way Williams just did.

I’ve been very troubled and haunted by Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. But somehow, Williams’ end has put Phillip’s departure in a kind of perspective I didn’t expect, but needed.  Yes, you still feel awful for the children. They both had three kids. And the wives.

I was drawn to watch “Capote” arguably Phillip’s greatest performance and the one he won the Oscar for. I hadn’t seen it since I first saw it at the Toronto Film Festival, where I am heading once again in a week.

I was totally gripped by “Capote.” I was spellbound all over again. His artistry was operating at its’ highest level in that performance. And the massive achievement it was for him. AND director Bennett Miller, who is still with us and has a new TIFF film “Foxcatcher” that I’m looking so forward to seeing in Toronto.

Phillip is gone. But “Capote” will last forever. I felt incredibly comforted by his harrowing and ultimately heartbreaking performance of the  ultimate user and abuser that  Truman Capote certainly was.

And as I listened to the Special Features Audio Commentary with Phillip and Bennett Miller, who were the closest of friends, at one point Phillip says “Alcoholism was the subplot. Alcohol was always around. Especially towards the end of the film.” Or words to that effect. And alcohol was one of the things that ultimately drove Phillip over the edge at the end also.

Then I picked up an old newspaper(I’m frantically cleaning and simultaneously packing for my big Canadian Trip of trips), the NY post that I was about to discard headlined Phillip on the front page saying “I Am a Heroin Addict.” And of course that made me sad. Momentarily. But then I just kept listening to the Special Features on “Capote” which is like watching the film for two and three times more, I was again comforted by the nuanced, great subtle performance of a lifetime that he gave playing what could have been a huge gay stereotype of a man, but wasn’t at all.

“Capote” was making me happy. Of all films. And at this terrible time, when every magazine and newspaper, and internet site, is blaring out “ROBIN WILLIAMS 1951-2014” at me.( I don’t have a working television right now. But that’s ANOTHER story.) And eventually, the pain and shock of Robin’s violet death will pass, too. And we will be left with the great gift of his talent, and his staggering number of great performances. He made us laugh. Now he’s making us cry. But time will bring a perspective on him, as it has with Phillip.

And we’ll just be happy hopefully, and grateful for the great work they did give us in their lifetimes.

 

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