Today the King of the Uncool, Cameron Crowe, published a short remembrance of Philip Seymour Hoffman on his website. It’s a glimpse into one of the most iconic scenes of the film, the scene that instantly transports me into my awkward 15-year-old self every damn time. So uncool and full of want. According to Crowe, he himself didn’t even know what this scene was until Hoffman showed him.
My original take on this scene was a loud, late night pronouncement from Lester Bangs. A call to arms. In Phil’s hands it became something different. A scene about quiet truths shared between two guys, both at the crossroads, both hurting, and both up too late. It became the soul of the movie. In between takes, Hoffman spoke to no one. He listened only to his headset, only to the words of Lester himself. (His Walkman was filled with rare Lester interviews.) When the scene was over, I realized that Hoffman had pulled off a magic trick. He’d leapt over the words and the script, and gone hunting for the soul and compassion of the private Lester, the one only a few of us had ever met. Suddenly the portrait was complete. The crew and I will always be grateful for that front row seat to his genius.
And the scene itself, if you’re feeling like a good cry.
Vivian Kane can’t wait to meet you on our long journey to the middle.