Cameron Crowe on Philip Seymour Hoffman's Genius in Iconic 'Almost Famous' Scene

DreamWorks Studios
Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'Almost Famous'

With Hollywood and beyond still in shock from Philip Seymour Hoffman's tragic passing on Sunday, director Cameron Crowe looked back on the Oscar-winning actor's genius, specifically in one iconic scene, in a short message on his official website.

Crowe reflected upon 2000's "Almost Famous," which he wrote and directed, and Hoffman's performance as legendary rock critic Lester Bangs. He writes that Hoffman went well beyond the script to capture the essence of the character, and ultimately crafted the "soul of the movie" with his "Uncool" speech to budding rock writer William Miller, played by Patrick Fugit.

"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."

Hoffman died Sunday at age 46 of an apparent heroin overdose in a New York City apartment. Billboard compiled a collection of responses from around the music world here.