Despite his critical success in films like “Boogie Nights” and “Capote,” Philip Seymour Hoffman said he never really dreamed of leaving the stage.
“I just thought I’d ride my bike to the theater. That’s what was romantic to me,” the NYU Tisch School of the Arts grad told The Guardian in 2011.
And, in some ways, he never did. Hoffman served as co-artistic director of off Broadway’s Labyrinth Theater Company. His work with the organization also included a joint production of “Othello” with the Public Theater in 2009, in which he played Iago.
“”We are heartbroken by the loss of our beloved friend, company member, and former artistic director, Philip Seymour Hoffman,” Labyrinth Theater Company said in a statement. “His contributions to the Labyrinth family as an artist and mentor are immeasurable. We join everyone in mourning the passing of one of the great lights of our generation.”
He also directed stage performances of other rising stars, such as Anna Paquin in “The Glory of Living” in 2001 at New York’s MCC Theater and Tom Hardy in “The Long Red Road” in 2010 at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.
“On one hand, nothing could be more satisfying; But it also is difficult to deal with a guy who could do it so well himself,” Hardy told the Chicago Sun-Times of the experience.
Hoffman received three Tony nominations, including one for his 2012 performance of Willy Loman in the revival of “Death of a Salesman,” an interesting choice for the actor as his father was a Xerox salesman. In her review of the production, Variety critic Marilyn Stasio wrote that Hoffman was “a superb actor going for the gold” with the part.
“Willy is already a broken man when Hoffman comes onstage, dragging the heavy sample cases for a sales trip to New England that his dangerously wandering mind forced him to abort,” wrote Stasio. “Hoffman has our sympathies from that first entrance, the stunned look on his face an eloquent articulation of Willy’s shame and fear. As earnestly as he delivers Willy’s deluded notions that a man’s worth is defined by physical appearance and personal popularity, thesp is never less than kind to this Everyman.”