Russell Baillie

Russell Baillie is the Herald’s entertainment editor

Philip Seymour Hoffman's best roles

Russell Baillie selects five must-see performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman's award-winning career.
Philip Seymour Hoffman in a scene from The Master.
Philip Seymour Hoffman in a scene from The Master.

Philip Seymour Hoffman may have won an Oscar for the title role in 2005, Capote, in which he played Truman Capote during the research for his book In Cold Blood.

But on screen the actor's career forte was the supporting role - something Big Hollywood learned to exploit in the likes of The Hunger Games franchise and Mission: Impossible III.

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Here's a selection of five of his best ...

The Master (2012)

Hoffman was Oscar nominated for his role as Lancaster Dodd, a charismatic cult leader inspired by Scientology founder L. Rob Hubbard in the last film of the many Hoffman made with director Paul Thomas Anderson who also got stand-out supporting performances from the actor in Punch-Drunk Love, Boogie Nights and Magnolia.

Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'The Master'. Photo / AP
Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'The Master'. Photo / AP

Opposite Joaquin Phoenix's unhinged Freddie Quelly, Hoffman's Dodd was an utterly compelling megalomaniac, right down to his final scene where he memorably serenaded his young acolyte with Slow Boat to China.

Almost Famous (2000)

There wasn't much that didn't feel romanticised in director Cameron Crowe's autobiographical film about his time as a cub music reporter for Rolling Stone, but Hoffman's short turn as maverick critic Lester Bangs was one of the most memorable riffs in this rock 'n' roll movie.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'Almost Famous'. Photo / Dreamworks
Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'Almost Famous'. Photo / Dreamworks

The Talented Mr Ripley (1999)

Among a very pretty cast, Hoffman's obnoxious Freddie Mills - the guy who first suspects something is up with Matt Damon's Tom Ripley - proved a scene stealer.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'The Talented Mr Ripley'.
Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'The Talented Mr Ripley'.

Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts may have been on the poster to this lightweight look at the consequences of covert US support for the mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the Reagan era, but Hoffman's prickly portrayal of real-life CIA guy Gust Avrakotos was the most memorable performance.

Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'Charlie Wilson's War'.
Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'Charlie Wilson's War'.

Doubt (2008)

The adaptation of John Patrick Shanley's play about nuns at a Bronx Catholic School growing suspicious about the behaviour of their parish priest might have still felt bound to the stage and its powerhouse ensemble was dominated by Meryl Streep's stern headmistress. But as Father Brendan Flynn, Hoffman's performance brought some subtlety to a movie which didn't have much otherwise.

Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'Doubt'. Photo / AP
Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'Doubt'. Photo / AP

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