Philip Seymour Hoffman


  1. Donnie Wahlberg, Ransom, 1996. Hoffman and Jack Black were in the mix. The usually more sensible director Ron Howard preferred Wahlberg as Cubby Barnes, one of the three kidnappers of multi-millionaire Mel Gibson’s daughter, who… well, you the rest! Probably, the idea was not to tale any shine off Gibson.
  2. Samuel L Jackson, Unbreakable, 2000.    For his follow-up to the almighty Sixth Sense, new (15 minute) wunderkind M Night Shyamalan was thinking of Phil for  the guy seeking help (for a mysterious bone disease) from the unbreakable Bruce Willis. The role became more verbose… and Sam is a Willis pal.
  3. Bob Balaban, Lady in the Water, 2005.       And for his seventh fantasy, director M Night Shyamalan finally included some humour such as Balaban’s film critic from Hell – he can’t be pleased and insists there is no originality in Hollywood.
  4. Ethan Hawke, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, 2006.       New York director Sydney Lumet sent the script to Phil – – giving him the choice of which of Albert Finney’s sons to play. Hoffman  chose Andy (and his bed action with Marisa Tomei ) over Hank in, alas, Lumet’s final film. 
  5. Dennis Quaid, The Special Relationship, 2009.    PSH, Alec Baldwin, Russell Crowe and Tim Robbins were also trying to be President Bill Clinton opposite the third time Michael Sheen had to straighten his naturally curly hair to be the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair – following the same scenarist Peter Morgan’s The Deal, 2003, and The Queen, 2006. This one opened with Oscar Wilde wisdom: True friends stab you in the front!
  6. Ewan McGregor, The Ghost Writer, 2009.     “I was uneasy at having an American play a British writer,” said British writer and scenarist Robert Harris,“but grateful that at least the film would be made.”  What, even  as this incredibly void affair by Roman Polanski?
  7. Kevin Spacey, Horrible Bosses, 2010.     Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, and the other Hoffman (Dustin) were  also in  the frame for Jason Bateman’s sadistic employer  – one of three bosses from hell, targets of a hit man hired by disgruntled workers in a  masculine take on Nine To Five. Chicago critic Roger Ebert, noted: “Few are better than Spacey at regarding others with contempt and humiliating them with pleasure.”
  8. Morgan Freeman, Now You See Me, 2012.    And now you don’t… Continual change of Thaddeus Bradley for French realisateur Louis Leterrier  – from PSH, Jim Carrey, Sacha Baron Cohen to Colin Firth and Hugh Grant – as the FBI and Interpol try to snare some – here’s a first – illusionist bank robbers!
  9. Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock, 2012.    Hitchcock’s back in business!   With two films headlined by UK actors (Anthony Hopkins, Toby Jones) in bad impressions and fat suits. This is the second one: Hopkins directing Psycho. And telling Janet Leigh: “You can call me Hitch. Hold the cock.”   Hitch didn’t look (or sound) like Hitch and  idem for those playing Janet Leigh and Vera Miles, however young James D’Arcy was an uncanny Anthony Perkins.  Apart from Johnny Depp, the casting only seemed in interested in avoirdupois over plausibility…  Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Murray, Oliver Platt – and, stupidly, only two other Brits, Richard Griffiths and Alfred Molina…  but not the perfect Timothy Spall – already up for Hitch in TV’s terrible The Girl, about making Tippi Hedren,  The Birds and Marnie.
  10. Vincent Cassel, Child 44, 2013.   Phil was too busy and Cassel took over his despicable Dr Zurabin in the first film of UK writer Tom Rob Smith’s trilogy about Russian cop, Leo Demidov – when, offically, no crimes, much less murders, happened inside Stalin’s USSR.  And then, alas, Phil OD’ed on Febraury 2, 2014.   Producer Shalom Auslander declared: “This planet is no damned place to have a heart, and Phil had the biggest, brokenest heart of anyone I have ever met. He was a beautiful person in a hideous world. Great actor, too.”

  11. Richard Jenkins, God’s Pocket, 2013   In his final film, PSH is hustling $6,000 to pay for his racist son’s funeral. Originally, he’d been set for trhe drunken journaist hunting the tyrurth of the death., A not wholly successful directing debut by Mad Men star, John Slattery .
  12. Steve Coogan, Happyish, TV, 2014.   Designed for PSH, author Shalom Auslander’s Showtime series  was postponed after the star’s death. Took nine months to replace him with UK comic Coogan as the fortysomething hero. “Steve’s range is astounding. He’s a comedy legend, a gifted satirist, and he possesses the unique combination of talents this role demands.” Yet  the  show was canned after one season – a first at Showtime.
  13. Rupert Everett, The Happy Prince, Belgium-Germany-Italy-UK, 2017.   After wanting to make his own Oscar Wilde biopic (from leaving Reading Gaol to his death), Everett won over  US producer Scott Rudin in 2017. Then, Rudin said Philip Seymour Hoffman must be Wilde. No way… ! The ten-year wait worked well. He’d always been too young, handsome and thinto play his hero,  “the patron saiunt of homosexuals.” Now in a fat suit and greasy wigs, he was perfect Wilde,  “a toothless vagrant, smelling vaguely of piss and sweat and cigarettes.” Rudin suggested six directors; they took two years to pass. So in for a penny, or a skimpy £llm  budget, Everett decided to writer-direct and called up his pals. Beatrice Dalle, Colin Firth (among the 23 producers; minus Rudin), Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, etc. “Obviously without all of them, it would have been hopeless.”
  14. Mark Rylance, The Trial Of The Chicago 7, 2019.  
    Thirteen years earlier, Steven Spielberg told the supreme scenarist Aaron Sorkin he wanted to make  a film about the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and the insane  trial of seven of the Vietnam war protestors.  “Count me in!”  said Sorkin, who had no idea what Spielberg was talking about.  He soon  found out and started his script in 2007 – then a writers’ strike delayed everything. Meanwhile, Spielberg cast Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman.  Will Smith had no time to be Bobby Seale.  Heath Ledger ODed the day before his meeting to discuss playing Tom Hayden; 
    eleven days later, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Spielberg’s choice for the Seven’s lawyer William Kuntsler, also ODed).  Other directors like Peter Berg, Paul Greengrass, Gary Ross and Ben Stiller (!!!) came and went. So many years shot by that Spielberg was able to see Sorkin’s 2017 helming debut, Molly’s Game, and book him to direct his scenario. Paramount lost interest so it became the first Netflix acquisition to live up to its hype, even though it was far from 100% factual.  “This is not a documentary,” explained Chicago critic Richard Roeper. “It’s a dramatisation of events that resonates with great power while containing essential truths, and it’s one of the best movies of the year.”




 Birth year: 1967Death year: 2014Other name: Casting Calls:  14