Rochester Remembers Philip Seymour Hoffman


Fans and friends of Philip Seymour Hoffman were given the opportunity to come together and pay tribute to the late Oscar-winning actor at The Little Theatre in Rochester Friday, Feb. 28 to Saturday, March 2.

Hoffman, who grew up in Fairport, was found dead early February in his New York City apartment from a drug overdose.

As a way to remember and celebrate his talent, The Little Theatre screened six of his films as part of the tribute series. Through the use of social media, The Little Theatre asked fans to vote for which films should be screened. Out of the hundreds of responses, six films were chosen. Hoffman visited the theater often, so it was a fitting location for paying a poignant tribute.

The Little Theatre invited fans to further contribute by collecting their tweets about Hoffman using the hashtag#PSHLittle. These tweets were projected before each film and included statements about Hoffman’s talent, memories and thoughts about his films.

Guest speakers were present for some of the screenings, speaking about Hoffman’s impact on their lives, as well as the legacy he left behind in the cinema world.

Jack Garner, a local film critic, said it was important to him to be at the tribute and remember the actor. He is also a friend of the family and Hoffman’s mother, Marilyn O’Connor. She requested he read a statement by her thanking friends and fans. 

“As a long-time film critic and as a friend of the family, I wanted to pay my respects and try to give him his due,” Garner said. “As for the letter, it was a great and honest gesture by his mother.”

Hoffman’s frequent visits to The Little Theatre reflected his love and respect for his hometown. The turnout of the tribute series reflected the Rochester community’s love and respect for him as well. 

According to the theatre’s website, four out of the six screenings were sold out, with 1,166 fans attending the weekend series. The proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to the newly created Hoffman Prize, a reward that will be given to a young filmmaker at the Rochester Teen Film Festival.

Hoffman took roles in film ranging from small, independent films like “Jack Goes Fishing,” which was screened at The Little Theatre, to blockbusters, like the recent “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” 

No matter the role, his acting comes across as thought-provoking and scene-stealing and his talent will live on through these characters.

Since his recent death, one can read various comments in films reviews, on message boards or tweets that spoke fondly of his talent and the impact he has left. 

“He is a rare actor whose work makes it hard to single out one performance,” College at Brockport journalism student Matthew Passantino said. “His diverse filmography led to him bringing some of the most memorable characters to the screen … He always disappeared into every role he played.”

Garner spoke of the depth he brought to his characters on screen. 

“I think he’ll be remembered a long time for his versatility, vulnerability and utter lack of vanity in his characters,” Garner said. “His mother once made a brilliant observation when she told him ‘you give voice to the voiceless.’”

The Little Theatre’s Philip Seymour Hoffman tribute series was a moving and respectful way to remember the late actor and to admire his acting. 

“The tributes will keep coming,” Garner said. “As a film lover and as a friend, I will miss him. A special gift of the arts is their ability to live on beyond the artist.”