Movies are a director’s medium. Acting, on its face, is very easy — only a few small steps up from modeling. The camera man dresses the models up and they pose for him while he takes still pictures. The costume designer dresses up the actors and they pose for the directors while the cameraman takes moving pictures.
That’s why less talented actors — Keanu Reeves and Kristen Stewart are good examples — keep getting work. They show up on time with their lines memorized and follow the director’s instructions. That’s why headshots are the first things an actor uses to get a job. That’s why our favorite performers are usually the ones we’re most attracted to — for an actor to actually raise the level of a production without also writing or something takes a load of charisma and herculean effort, so we all just like the pretty one because it’s easier.
Philip Seymour Hoffman had twice the requisite charisma and consistently gave that effort, and was an A-list actor for more discerning movie goers. At 46, he had decades of performances left that we are never going to see, both cinematic and on-stage — his live work is extensive and award-winning, culminating in him starring as Willy Loman in the 2012 Broadway production of Death of a Salesman.
He leaves behind a girlfriend of 15 years, a son, two daughters and millions more who will never see him light up another stage.