Passings: Philip Seymour Hoffman On JD Salinger And The Struggle For Privacy In A Public Life

From Ruby Dee to Robin Williams, Mike Nichols, Unbroken protagonist Louis Zamperini, Ben Bradlee, Homeland‘s James Rebhorn and so many others, the list of people who passed in 2014 somehow just hits you in the gut harder than recent years. Perhaps none as hard as Philip Seymour Hoffman. His death was as shocking as that of Williams, who took his life after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

Like Williams, Nichols and others on the list, Hoffman’s professional accomplishments were outsized, from his Oscar-winning turn in Capote to the gut-wrenching stage turn in the Nichols-directed Death Of A Salesman. Unlike most of those others, Hoffman’s best work seemed squarely to be in front of him, before he was found dead of a drug overdose.

I don’t know that I’ll ever see a better stage turn than Death Of A Salesman. Looking back on it, I can understand why Hoffman turned down Willy Loman for years; you can see the toll he paid to turn in that kind of performance night after night, which seemed to plunge him into depression when it was over. In this exclusive outtake from the Shane Salerno-directed Salinger, Hoffman gives his views on the struggle by his favorite author, JD Salinger, to guard a private life when fame overtakes you. We found it poignant, telling, and sad.

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