“Be Honest, and Unmerciful”: Remembering One of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Best Scenes

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 2 2014 2:21 PM

“Be Honest, and Unmerciful”: Remembering One of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Best Scenes

Philip_Seymour_Hoffman_Almost_famous
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous.

© 2000 Dreamworks, LLC.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead on Sunday at age 46. Hoffman, who won an Oscar for Capote, also starred in The Master, Synecdoche, New York, Magnolia, and a boatload of other modern classics. For all of the indelible parts he played, the role that comes to mind first when I heard about his shocking death was his depiction of Lester Bangs. In this scene from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, Hoffman calls on his vast reserves of empathy to offer wise counsel to Patrick Fugit’s William Miller. The most important lesson: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool.”

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Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.