I first saw him in The Talented Mr Ripley. I watched it because I was, at the time, besotted with Jude Law. After that movie, though, I barely thought of Jude again. It was all about Philip.
I was seventeen years old. I was going out with a footballer. Philip Seymour Hoffman was fifteen or so years my senior and not at all “conventionally attractive” in the way Jude or my footballer boyfriend were. He was scruffy, a tad overweight, pale and always looked like he’d just pulled an all-nighter doing something possibly intellectual but probably naughty.
I fell in love. I fell deeply, painfully, completely in love with this offbeat, brilliant man. I watched every one of his films. I stuck pictures of him on the wall above my bed with Blu-tak. I proudly showed the pictures to the man who was to be my husband on his first journey into my bedroom. I’m not sure what he thought of my obsession. At the time, I didn’t care. I may have been falling for the man who would one day by Tiger’s Daddy, but there was still a good portion of my heart reserved for Philip.
As the years went on, my crush on Philip held tight and remained one of the last vestiges of my passionate teenagerhood. When I was that age, the things I loved I loved intensely. Most of them fell by the wayside as I became a “grown-up”. I never stopped loving Philip. Even a photo of him, with that Cheshire Cat grin and those wickedly glinting eyes had the ability to made my heart turn ninety degrees to the left.
He’s gone now and it’s my John Lennon, my Elvis Presley, my Princess Diana. This morning, upon reading the news, I didn’t write, didn’t read, didn’t do any of those indulgent things I do each day before Tiger wakes.
I cried. Inconsolably. For my youth, partly. For the passion of it. And for a man whose talent inspired awe but whom nobody could save.
I want to Blu-tak his picture to my wall again. I never want to forget those eyes and what it feels like to love like that.
Today, I saw a teenage couple breaking up in the park and my eyes prickled with tears and I felt it: what it’s like to have your heart burn and break and shatter and explode. As we get older, is it inevitable that we have to lose that feeling? Because it’s devastating but it’s beautiful too. Every time I watched Philip on screen, I was a teenager.
He’s gone now and I’m scared I’ll never feel like that again.