a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘early death’

Robin WIlliams & Phillip Seymour Hoffman

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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Paul Walker Dead at 40 & Terrible Train Wreck in the Bronx

This is a morning full of death. I see on the Internet that the handsome actor Paul Walker is dead in Hollywood in a fiery crash, not unlike the one that killed James Dean. Walker was a very young-looking 40. And surprisingly had a teen-aged daughter.

And then I turn on the TV and get all the broadcast channels going on endlessly about a Metro North commuter  train derailment in the Spuyten Duvill section of the Bronx, the borough that I grew up in. Four people died and many more injured. I often have taken that train. Life is so fragile.

Death seems everywhere now that the holiday of Thanksgiving is over. New York is particularly a city that goes haywire on a long holiday weekend. Nothing gets done.

Like for instance Fedex was supposed to deliver a package to me, but it has not yet gotten there. And although they are open in some location sites 24 hours 7 days a week, nothing can get done till tomorrow Monday. No drop offs on Sundays, holidays especially. I found this out the hard way.

Show business and entertainment news, which I purport to cover, is a twenty-four/seven situation. It just never stops. Ask Jeffrey Wells at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com He’s complaining that “Don’t I get a day off!?!” Because Paul Walker’s death happened right in the middle of his holiday weekend. You can check out Jeff’s blog, if you want more info on Paul Walker’s horrifying demise.

I never got to interview him in my LONG(three decades) career of interviewing celebrities. So I don’t have a personal memory or anecdote to share. Except that my perception of him was some one attractive and blond enough to work a lot in Hollywood. He was once on the cover of one of Vanity Fair’s Young Hollywood issues, back in the early ’00’s.

I knew he’d work at lot in action films, and he did.

Like for instance the “Fast and Furious” franchise which brought him major stardom, as it were. I never have seen any of the seven immensely successful movies. I don’t even drive, so films about cars usually don’t interest me.

I always see them as weapons of death. And the violent, sudden end of Paul Walker’s life bears that thought out.

I did for some reason unknown to myself now, and lost in memory, I DID see a very good mystery thriller with him in the lead in or around 2001 called “Joy Ride.” And I remember him vividly from that. I thought he was someone who was pretty, but probably couldn’t act, but in “Joy Ride” he showed me that there was much more to him than that. As he and Steve Zahn were a couple of college kids driving(again the car theme) and picking up a psycho killer named Rusty Nail by accident on the CB radio.

Walker pretended to be a sexy female stripper/prostitute named “Candy Cane” and Rusty Nail began stalking their car. Walker had to switch in and out of this hilarious female role vocally. And got in a great deal of trouble for doing so in “Joy Ride” which was anything but. This little known, little-remembered film was also as I looked it up co-written by a young J.J.Abrams! And directed with great suspense by the great John Dahl. It was probably because of Dahl’s directing it that I went. And I was really surprised and glad that I did.

It was truly harrowing, and Paul Walker was just terrific in it. He showed he had potential to grow beyond the teen stuff he was being given at that time. And he did. I always liked him better than his better known contemporary Matthew McConaghey, who I never cared for much, until I saw this year’s stupendous “Dallas Buyer’s Club” which I will be writing more fully about soon.

R.I.P. Paul Walker. You didn’t deserve this tragic, early death.

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