Taking stock of an actor’s legacy on the stage is trickier than summing up a career on screen. After all, we can all go back and watch a film performance with the click of a mouse or by sliding in a DVD. Movies are endlessly available to us. The stage, on the other hand, is a living thing that varies from night to night. Some nights are magical, others less so. But when a show’s run ends, so does its life. It can be remembered, but not relived.
Maybe that’s why I feel incredibly lucky to be able to look back on a handful of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s most indelible stage performances and think that, for a brief moment, I shared something with him. Something that lived and breathed and was over too soon. I know I’m not alone. I’m sure that anyone who sat in a hushed Broadway theater to see Hoffman play Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, or James Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, or either of the warring brothers in Sam Shepard’s True West feels that way too. That we were witnessing something special and magical at that moment — not just in the grim hindsight of his premature death Sunday at age 46. READ FULL STORY