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Thread: The passing of two great actors

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    The passing of two great actors

    The past 24 hours have brought news of the deaths of two notable character actors, both Oscar winners. The tragedy lies in the fact that the ages of the two men differ by forty years. Maximilian Schell, the Austrian-Swiss actor/director who was so dynamic in Judgment at Nuremberg, was 83 years old. Philip Seymour Hoffman, equally gifted and versatile, was 46. Both are losses to the world of film and stage, but understandably Hoffman's passing is infinitely more of a loss. Anyone who thinks that drugs add glamor to life might contemplate forty years of films and stage productions that now will never exist.

    I haven't seen a lot of Hoffman's work, but he could clearly do just about anything. He wasn't handsome or glamorous at all; he wasn't the kind of actor whose most important characteristic is the physique attained with the help of a personal trainer. He was pasty-faced and kind of boneless. He could get under the skin of a character in a way that riveted not only audiences but also his fellow actors. Schell was more conventionally handsome (and he had that yummy accent), but he was also capable of a wide range of portrayals. As well as acting in mainstream movies such as Topkapi, he wrote and directed (and performed in) independent films, created documentaries, acted in both German-language and English-language productions, played piano well enough to perform, directed operas, and generally proved to be a Renaissance man throughout his long and productive life.

    It's too bad we lost them both, though at least Schell had a generous amount of time in which to live and to create.

    Is anyone else out there a fan of either or both of these fine actors?

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    Custom Title demarinis5's Avatar
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    I just heard about Hoffman, sad. I have been fan of his since I saw him in the movie Almost Famous. He has done a lot of
    good work over the years and was truly gifted. Some news agency are reporting that it could have been a drug overdose.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Too many actors/singers/celebs die from drugs... because no one will say NO or hold them accountable. Be it Beiber or Hoffman, Houston or Ledger... or how many others?

    Their entourages are too busy trying to stay close to the money and fame to actually care about the person they're supposed to love and respect.

    (not saying it's not ultimately his fault for ODing... but it's that much harder when you don't have the right type of support)

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    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    add Cory Monteith at age 31 (although his addictions started long before fame) and River Phoenix at age 23 and countless others who lost their lives before reaching the pinnacle of their talents and/or dreams.

    I agree that it's all about the support systems. Stars like Anne Hathaway, the various actors who portrayed the kids on the Cosby Show and many others have grown up in the spot light and have not succumbed to the dangers of celebrity because of their family and mentors (i.e. Bill Cosby is known to have stressed the importance of education to the young actors who portrayed his kids on THe Cosby Show). Most who seek to avoid the hazards of fame end up moving their kids out of Hollywood - child actor and director Ron Howard raised his family in Connecticut. Heck, even Donald Trump raised his children in relative obscurity, gave them an allowance which they had to save up if they wanted to go skiing with friends on spring break, etc and [while giving them the opportunity] expected them to earn their place in his business organization.

    Then you look at celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Justin Beiber - both gained fame at a young age and have parents who didn't guide them well or set reasonable limits to their lifestyles while they were minors.

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    I don't think highly of Donald Trump except in one area: he really seems to have brought his kids up to be responsible adults. He may be a blowhard and an overweening egotist, but an annoying personality doesn't take away from that significant accomplishment, which is the greatest treasure a parent can give his children: themselves.

    People like Lindsay Lohan are heartbreaking because they are really twisting in the wind. No parental strength behind them, no sense of boundaries ever instilled, and they are the family breadwinner. By contrast, the Cosby kids seem to have had support both at home and in their workplace. One person for whom I have huge admiration is Drew Barrymore, because she had a similar situation to Lohan and yet somehow managed to pick herself up off the ground and become a steady adult. In fact, I think she actually helped support her father, the luckless John Drew Barrymore (whose parents, John Barrymore and Dolores Costello, were likewise destructive and undependable), in his last years. From what I've read, Drew seems to have broken a generations-long chain of alcoholism and/or drug dependency. That's close to miraculous.

    We'll learn much more about Hoffman in the coming weeks, because the magnitude of his talent will make his fate all the more compelling to contemplate. Cory Monteith was a nice young man with a promising future, but Hoffman was already one of the great actors of American film and stage, and losing him at this age is like losing a young Laurence Olivier or Spencer Tracy. "Might have been" is a far more tragic statement in this context.

    As for Schell, it's just a pleasure to contemplate his vast accomplishments across two continents and two languages. One of his enjoyable later roles, brief but so crucial to the plot, is his appearance in the movie Julia. He always helped anchor whatever film or television production he was in.

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    Custom Title skateluvr's Avatar
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    I did not see capote but want to now-didn't know he had a leading role Oscar for it. I loved him in "The Talented Mr Ripley." I assumed he was out of shape from eating. I never even think drugs first. You know, he was a party animal. He liked all the drugs and booze. Sadly he could maybe have left behind a larger body of work.

    I think he was capable of so much, and being a male, his career would likely go one for decades. He certainly was one of the top men in his age group. RIP. I have Almost Famous. Just saw "Ripley"' on line a couple weeks ago. I saw "Doubt" but once was enough.

    Can we list movies he did with the 5 star thing?

    Ripley -5 star
    Capote?
    Almost Famous 5
    Doubt 2.5

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    While Doubt's subject matter was not something I enjoy watching, I thought it was the best film he was a part of (or at least one of them). Amy Adams was also good in that film. Meryl Streep and Viola Davis, too.

    I wasn't keen on Capote, still don't get why it got all the buzz and accolades it did.

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    Because Capote took something that wasn't particularly "cinematic" (research and writing are not particularly dramatic activities, although the results of them can be very dramatic) and turned it into a compelling film. That's incredibly hard to do. And Hoffman's performance is amazing (though I still think Heath Ledger should have won that year for 'Brokeback Mountain'--actually it was a particularly good year for actors). He portrayed someone who could very very easily have been turned into a cartoon and made him empathetic and compelling. It was one of those years when you wish there could have been a tie. He really was The New Spencer Tracy. Tragic loss.

    I have a relative who is a heroin addict. And it sounds callous to people who have never been personally involved with one, but there really is not much you can do until they want to change unless you want to lock the addict up and watch him/her 24/7.

    I used to do research for a film historian who screened a print of The Man in the Glass Booth. Maximilian Schell was just freaking creepy--very effective performance. Another fine actor (and director-- the Marlene Dietrich documentary is fascinating if you get a chance to see it), but at least he seems to have lived a good full life.

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    Gotta Have Music iluvtodd's Avatar
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    What a tragedy for such a relatively young actor! I am not familiar with any of his movie roles, since I haven't seen any of the movies mentioned.

    I do remember Maximillian Schell, especially in Judgment in Nuremberg

    May they both rest in peace.

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    One early film of Hoffman's, in which he was a minor but very funny contributor, was Nobody's Fool, a Paul Newman film with splendid performances by one and all, including Newman, Margo Martindale, Bruce Willis, Jessica Tandy, and Melanie Griffith. Hoffman played the clueless police officer, just about one step up in competence from the Keystone Kops, who kept trying to nail Newman for some infraction or other.

    I never saw The Man in the Glass Booth, but I can imagine how powerful Schell was in it. And yes, he had the satisfaction of living a good, full life, with every corner of his profession explored. Wouldn't it have been nice if we had been able to say that about Hoffman about forty years from now....

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    Sometimes bad skating happens to good people... LiamForeman's Avatar
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    Well, okay, RIP Maximillian Schell and PSH. It is heartbreaking that no one could stop PSH. A very unblind "blind" on PSH's heroin abuse ran the internet only three weeks ago. I mean, if the *internet* is talking about your heroin abuse, I'm wondering where are the friends and family?? It is very sad. I do have a fatalistic attitude about death though. The only sure thing about life is eventual death, and some hasten it themselves or are struck down by cancer, homicide, accidents, etc. I think the best thing is to celebrate who he was and what he accomplished, and be happy he gave the world a glimpse of his great talent. RIP.

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    There's only so much one can do to intervene in the life of someone who isn't ready to change. A trivial example: when I was in college, a dorm-mate who had trouble waking up for classes in the morning persuaded me to come wake her up every day. I dutifully went to her room and did everything short of rolling her out of bed to get her up. She never budged. For the first two days, I felt personally guilty that I couldn't get her woken up and to her first class. I thought that the situation reflected a lack of character on my part, because surely a strong and effective person could have gotten her going. Then I realized that it had nothing to do with me, and the arrangement ended. Now, that situation just had to do with trying to wake someone up. Imagine how much harder it must be to prevent someone from giving in to one of the strongest addictions known to man. That old platitude about how "the person has to want to change" is not trite psychobabble. It's the real thing, No one can be someone else's keeper. For one thing, no one can stay awake 24 hours a day to watch someone's every move. The person involved has to be the main fighter in this battle. It's an old story, unfortunately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LiamForeman View Post
    Well, okay, RIP Maximillian Schell and PSH. It is heartbreaking that no one could stop PSH. A very unblind "blind" on PSH's heroin abuse ran the internet only three weeks ago. I mean, if the *internet* is talking about your heroin abuse, I'm wondering where are the friends and family?? It is very sad. I do have a fatalistic attitude about death though. The only sure thing about life is eventual death, and some hasten it themselves or are struck down by cancer, homicide, accidents, etc. I think the best thing is to celebrate who he was and what he accomplished, and be happy he gave the world a glimpse of his great talent. RIP.
    Believe me, there is very little that can be done if an addict is bent on self-destruction. Addicts are the cagiest people when they are in the grip of their addiction. OF COURSE you want to help. But an addict will often, in my experience, tell you what they think you want to hear (ie blatantly lie to your face), make some perfunctory stabs at cleaning up, and then go do what they want to do anyway. As Olympia said, it's an old story and one with very few happy endings.

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