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Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman through four of his smaller roles

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Philip Seymour Hoffman’s art lives on.
Photo: Victoria Will / Invision

The Big Lebowski (1998) With a cast full of great actors (including Jeff Bridges and John Goodman) playing memorable characters, Hoffman’s turn as officious assistant Brandt can get overlooked. But he brings just the right amount of fussiness and exuberance to the role, making Brandt an important part of the movie’s oddball tapestry.

Almost Famous (2000) Director Cameron Crowe recently wrote a lovely tribute to Hoffman describing how the actor changed the entire tenor of a pivotal scene in his role as rock critic Lester Bangs, turning what had been planned as a loud declaration of purpose into something quieter and more profound. Hoffman’s performance throughout the movie is similarly thoughtful.

Owning Mahowny (2003) Hoffman gives a moving, disquieting performance in this fact-based drama about a seemingly mild-mannered Canadian bank clerk who embezzled millions of dollars and gambled it all away. It’s a stark, revealing portrait of the dizzying highs and desperate lows of addiction.

Mission: Impossible III (2006) Unlike a lot of acclaimed actors, Hoffman took relatively few paycheck-cashing roles in Hollywood blockbusters. Here, he plays the best villain in the whole Mission: Impossible series, gleefully taunting Tom Cruise’s upstanding secret agent and heightening the movie’s emotional stakes.

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