Calling him the Master wouldn’t begin to cover it. He was everything you’d want in a character actor. He could be funny and tragic, often at once (Capote); he could be imperious or blustery (The Master), yet he was capable of conveying great tenderness and vulnerability (as the lovelorn techie in Boogie Nights, and as Jason Robards’ nurse in Magnolia). From henchmen to fixers to drag queens: maybe the only thing he couldn’t play was a romantic hero (though he came close in Jack Goes Boating, a film he also directed).
That one so young possessed so much talent—Hoffman had the gift and gave it away, to us, an act of generosity that yielded so many intriguing hours spent in his company (and four Academy Award nominations (one win) to go with his Tony Award nods for Broadway performances in True West, Long Day’s Journey into Night and Death of a Salesman). What an original—his likes won’t come around again. Our loss. RIP.