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  • Thomas Ward

Something's bothering me


I knew a girl who was very moved and troubled when Princess Diana passed away and at the time I found it sort of silly. She didn't know her, after all. Why the tears? I didn't cry yesterday when I heard about Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, but it ruined my day and has largely been on my mind today as well. I'm not a drug addict but I could be. I get it. I'm just lucky I never found myself in those circles. When I see heroin use depicted on film there's always a part of it that looks absolutely divine to my brain. Sure, there's inevitable horror and pain and withdrawal and death. But man, the look on the face of the user as the syringe empties... I get it.

Two weeks ago I was housesitting for my friend in Atlanta. I watched Magnolia for the millionth time.

I'm annoyed with myself for this post. I don't know if I'm going to post it.

I've been troubled not because I knew him or because I'm a drug addict like him or because I have any personal connection to him in any form. It's because I've always wanted to be him. For a long, long time I've wanted to be Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was a character actor that got to play, and was talented enough to play such a wide array of roles. He was talented enough to do comedy, drama, theater, film, whatever. He directed. He ran a theater. He developed new plays. Every accolade. He lived in the West Village. He was 20+ years sober. He had a family who loved him. He had friends who loved him. I saw him play Jamie in Long Day's Journey and it was the best thing I've ever seen. He was the best thing I've ever seen. He was a wreck at curtain call. I felt bad that he had to endure a curtain call.

I wrote a blog post over a year ago about Kurt Cobain and how there was a time in my life where I would've traded places with him, but that time had passed. I'm no longer in my twenties, after all. Today I was sharing something similar with my wife and she asked me if I would still trade places with Philip Seymour Hoffman. Today when we had the conversation I had to be honest and say I didn't know. The devil comes down to Georgia (I lived there as a young actor) looking for a soul to steal. He offers the list above. I ask him what's the catch. He says the day of the super bowl, 2014....

I've been chewing on it all night. I've talked with some friends. Two nights ago I was restless and irritable over money and job and "career." I can assure you that two nights ago Mr. Hoffman was restless and irritable as well. Yesterday I was cranky and indulging in self-pity because I had to work my day job instead of watching what turned out to be a stupid football game (no offense to my Seattle friends). Mr. Hoffman was dead.

Tonight I played with my sons. Tonight I'm going to bed sober. Tomorrow is whatever it's going to be.

We say a lot of things in those meetings. The thing that's been echoing in my mind has been "a moment of silence for the alcoholic still suffering..."

The other phrase that won't stop whispering?

You wanted to be him.

#acting #theatre #addiction #philipseymourhoffman