Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
July 23
Philip Seymour Hoffman July 23, 1967
Philip Seymour Hoffman born

On this day in 1967, Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in Rochester, New York. Or, at least, that’s what the record states. But, in many ways, the true Philip Seymour Hoffman – the chameleonic actor – came into being when a 12-year-old Hoffman saw a production of Arthur Miller play All My Sons, an experienced which left him “permanently changed” because of the all-consuming passion to be involved in acting that it instilled in him. From that point on, he took acting incredibly seriously (he describes it as “torturous”), with the result that over the course of the 1990s he became one of the most in-demand character actors, and in the 2000s began receiving plum lead roles, such as Capote (for which he won a Best Actor Oscar, plus every equivalent award available award that year) and Synecdoche, New York. While Hoffman is not physically the most obvious candidate for movie stardom – he is not particularly handsome, and is often called both schlubby and overweight – he possesses an uncanny to utterly transform himself into the characters he is playing. (You can read about many of these in the article 13 Ways of Looking at Philip Seymour Hoffman.) Mike Nichols, who has directed Hoffman both on stage and screen, has this to say about the actor’s incredible powers of metamorphosis: “Again and again, he can truly become someone I’ve not seen before but can still instantly recognize. Sometimes Phil loses some weight, and he may dye his hair but, really, it’s just the same Phil, and yet, he’s never the same person from part to part. …It’s that humanity that is so striking — when you watch Phil work, his entire constitution seems to change. He may look like Phil, but there’s something different in his eyes. And that means he’s reconstituted himself from within, willfully rearranging his molecules to become another human being.”


More Flashbacks
July 23, 1966
Montgomery Clift Dies

The tragic actor meets his end.

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23 July 1966
From Then to Eternity

It was 42 years ago that Montgomery Clift was found dead at the age of 45 in his New York City townhouse by his personal secretary, Lorenzo James.

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