Celebrity deaths, just like any other deaths, are inevitable. And when they involve drug overdoses, they're not all that surprising. Regardless, when someone dies at a relatively young age, it's still a shock. Today, news broke that Philip Seymour Hoffman, quite possibly the most talented actor of his generation, died of a reported heroin overdose at the age of 46.
I had read recent reports that Hoffman, who had been sober for years, was using drugs, so when I heard that he had died I pretty much knew what the cause was. It's easy to be cynical and make cracks that he got what he deserved, but obviously, the guy had a problem. He was born just two months before me (that's where our similarities end) and he had three young children, so all this does is make me sad.
And over the last 20 years or so, he left us with some amazing acting performances in Capote, Almost Famous, Punch-Drunk Love, Moneyball, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and many more that I haven't seen yet. Hoffman tended to lose himself in roles, so unlike a larger-than-life actor like Jack Nicholson or Tom Cruise, he never just played the same guy.
He's certainly not the only actor or musician to succumb to drugs: the list includes Hendrix, Belushi, Joplin, Chris Farley, Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix and so many others. It really is a stupid way to die, but there's no denying that substance abuse is insidious and a disease. It's a damn shame that these talented lives were cut short, just as it's a shame when ANYONE dies of an OD or as the result of a substance abuse problem. My father was a serious alcoholic for the last decade or so of his life, and even though the cause of death was renal failure, it was all that boozing that directly to all his health problems.
All we can do now is remember the good stuff PSH left behind.