Philip Seymour Hoffman, renowned character actor, Academy award winner, two-time Tony award nominee, and New York University drama graduate died this past week of an apparent heroin overdose in his Greenwich village apartment. He was just 46 years old. As a youngster, Phil had a keen interest in sports, but when an injury sidelined his athletic ambitions, he turned his attention to the theater arts. What followed is a body of work in film and theater that just about any actor would covet. He was nominated for three academy awards, winning Best Actor for his portrayal of the gifted-but-troubled litterateur, Truman Capote in 2006, and he was also nominated for two Tony awards.

Much has been reported over the last few days of Philip’s biggest and most popular roles; i.e., the hapless and forever-longing Scotty J. in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights; the brutally honest rock critic Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous; and the would-be cult leader in 2012’s The Master. But for those interested in more esoteric faire, here are five largely hidden gems that you might want to stick in your Netflix cue toot sweet!

#1 In the romantic Civil War drama Cold Mountain, Philip played the lecherous Reverend Veasey with equal parts contempt, hypocrisy, empathy, and self pity. He brought an engaging and creepy charisma to an undeniably sociopathic personality.

#2 Ethan Hawke and Philip play brothers robbing their parents’ jewelry store in Sidney Lumet’s Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead. Philip portrays a truly manipulative psychopath, but makes him seem like a downright ordinary guy with garden-variety financial pressures.

#3 In Along Came Polly Phil portrays a former child star-turned-egocentric egomaniac with such aplomb you can’t help but cheer when he nails his first “acting” role in twenty years. Hoffman takes what is normally an annoying, by-the-numbers role and gives it a dignity and empathy rarely seen in romantic comedies.

#4 In The Savages, Laura Linney and Hoffman play warring siblings stuck in the mire of Academia as they care for their dying father. Hoffman takes a character that is intensely boring and world weary, and turns him into something you just can’t take your eyes off.

#5 In 2009’s Pirate Radio Hoffman’s The Count is so devoted and enthusiastic about his beloved rock ‘n’ roll, well, it’s just plain contagious!

Philip Seymour Hoffman is survived by his three children, his long-time partner Mimi O’Donnell, and a canon of work in film and theater which will be enjoyed and analyzed for decades to come.

What are your favorite PSH characters? Please share!

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