I've seen the needle and the damage done. That's what Neil Young told us forty-three years ago. Philip Seymour Hoffman was three years old at the time. Was there something set in motion before he was born that made it inevitable that he would end up dead, from an overdose? Were there chemicals in his brain way back then that predisposed him for such a disposition? Or was it something that came about as he grew older? As he became famous, and the choices he could make became at once more varied and more limiting. Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead at forty-six, and there's nothing we can do about it.
He was clean for years, according to reports. He lived most of his adult life in sobriety, but started sliding down that slippery slope back in May. A quick ten-day stint in rehab was good enough to get him back on track, ready for the premiere of his latest film, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." No more red carpet. Just a black box.
There are plenty of people who ascend to levels of fame beyond Mister Hoffman without falling prey to temptation and demons like drug addiction. He is not the first, nor will he probably be the last. It was David Lee Roth, the once and future lead singer for Van Halen who said, "I used to have a drug problem, now I make enough money." Maybe he's got a point, since it was his bandmate, the eponymous Eddie Van Halen who did a stint in rehab.
In 2006, when he won his best actor Oscar, Philip Seymour Hoffman had this to say about his earlier struggle during an interview with "60 Minutes": "I have so much empathy for these young actors that are nineteen and all of a
sudden they're beautiful and famous and rich. I'm like, 'Oh my God. I'd
be dead.' You know what I mean? I'd be nineteen, beautiful, famous and rich.
That would be it. I think back at that time. I think if I had the money,
that kind of money and stuff. So, yeah [I would have died]."
The damage is done. Aloha, Philip Seymour Hoffman.