“When I play somebody gay, I never think of it as "I'm playing a gay character"”, Philip Seymour Hoffman told Michael Musto back in 2005. “It's interesting to play all the different aspects of the character. There's something else about the character that's pulling me there that I identify with”.
“Interesting” is something of an understatement for the three indelible queer roles that Hoffman created over the course of his career. It is heartbreaking and astonishing to observe the sheer quality and variety on evidence in the following three clips:
Boogie Nights (1997)
As Hoffman said of his character, boom operator Scotty, “he was so completely stunted I don't even think he knew his attractions were of a gay nature”. Yet in this scene with Mark Wahlberg in the role of porn star Dirk Diggler, they come gushing to the fore in exquisitely cringe-inducing style:
It takes a monumental performance to justify denying Heath Ledger the 2005 Oscar for his career-defining turn in “Brokeback Mountain” (the queerest Best Actor race in history without a doubt). But here is just that. Hoffman’s performance is clever and nuanced enough not to let Capote’s sexuality define or explain his growing obsession with murder suspect Perry Smith, but brave enough to allow it to inform the pair’s electrifying interactions:
I put these out of sync chronologically purely so we could end on the sheer delight of the following clip, from Joel Schumacher’s “Flawless”. Almost every line of Hoffman’s in this scene is quotable, but to do so would deny you the pleasure of watching him deliver his big speech with infectious relish. We are not exactly short of reasons to be grateful for Philip Seymour Hoffman. But I guess we also have the Republican Party to thank for this: