by Bradford Hornsby

The film world was shocked and saddened on Sunday by the untimely death of Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. When looking back on his short but illustrious career, we kept on going back to his portrayal of legendary Rolling Stone (and Creem) rock critic Lester Bangs in the film Almost Famous. Hoffman’s portrait – albeit brief – was a hinge pin in the film’s coming of age story. Bangs and Hoffman look like they will also share the same sad fate of dying of accidental overdoses.

Writer, director, and loosely the protagonist of Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe took to his official site to both eulogize and marvel at the scenes that he and Philip Seymour Hoffman made together.

“My original take on this scene was a loud, late night pronouncement from Lester Bangs. A call to arms. In Phil’s hands it became something different. A scene about quiet truths shared between two guys, both at the crossroads, both hurting, and both up too late. It became the soul of the movie. In between takes, Hoffman spoke to no one. He listened only to his headset, only to the words of Lester himself. (His Walkman was filled with rare Lester interviews.) When the scene was over, I realized that Hoffman had pulled off a magic trick. He’d leapt over the words and the script, and gone hunting for the soul and compassion of the private Lester, the one only a few of us had ever met. Suddenly the portrait was complete. The crew and I will always be grateful for that front row seat to his genius.”

(via Crowe’s website

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