“Rain Dance!” & other memorable Phillip Seymour Hoffman moments

I woke up Sunday morning with the hopes that the day would be filled with both relaxation and excitement. I planned to lounge around in my dorm room, to eat copious amounts of chicken wing dip, and to cheer for the Broncos on their quest for the Lombardi trophy.

But, the morning of Super Bowl Sunday was marred by the sudden death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, an actor who possessed a rare amount of talent that radiated with every character he portrayed. Hoffman was a native of Fairport, NY, a suburb of Rochester only 25 minutes from my own hometown. My friend’s mother and her brothers went to high school with him, a claim to fame for a small town resident if there ever was one.

Since I first found out Hoffman was a Rochester native, I’ve been a fan of his work. It’s funny how the small connection of simply being from the same area as him put his acting on my radar. I have yet to see all of his works, but I now plan to make my way through his filmography. Death has a way of increasing the worth of a celebrity; I’m just one of many who are now probably watching his films with newly discovered fervor.

The most recent of his films I’ve seen is the latest addition to the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire. According to reports of his death, Hoffman was set to wrap up filming of the last adaptation, Mockingjay. It’s a shame to lose a talented man so soon.

Hoffman and Woody Harrelson in Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Image courtesy of adifferentforest.com

I’ve seen many of his films over the past few years, including Moneyball, The Ides of March, and The Savages. After Hoffman won the Best Actor Academy Award in 2006 for Capote, I’ve been meaning to see that film as well.

But for some reason, mostly due to my love of cheesy romantic comedies, the performance that will forever stick out in my mind is Hoffman’s character of Sandy Lyle in the 2004 movie Along Came Polly. Although this film was frivolous and unforgettable among the movie industry elite, I will always hear Sandy Lyle yelling “Rain Dance!” at an overthrown basketball shot attempt, and I will see him squeezing the grease of Ben Stiller’s pizza onto his own. After all, the grease is the best part.

So, to honor the late actor and to recognize a resounding loss the movie industry has suffered, here are a few of my favorite Phillip Seymour Hoffman moments, both in and out of character.

1. “Rain Dance!”

I occasionally yell this when someone puts a basketball in my hands. The following scene from Along Came Polly is Hoffman at his finest.

2. Hoffman’s Best Actor acceptance speech for Capote 

Hoffman thanked his mother in the speech for raising four kids alone. “We’re at the party, Ma.”

3. Hoffman’s performance in The Savages 

I’m a huge fan of indie films, and this Sundance selection is worth the watch. Hoffman and Linney play siblings taking on the roles of caretaker as they help their dementia-ridden father.

These are only a few of my favorite Hoffman moments throughout his acting career. Celebrity deaths are oftentimes passing and forgettable news, but don’t let his fall by the wayside. His talent and meaningful presence in film will be missed, so check out his filmography on imdb.com and start watching. It’s an unfortunate loss worth honoring.


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