Philip Seymour Hoffman first caught my attention in 1997, when he performed one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ll ever see: playing the awkwardly sweet boom operator Scotty in Boogie Nights, right after he’s rejected by hot porno superstar Dirk Diggler.
Until this point in the movie I’ve been laughing at Scotty’s flirtations with Dirk, assuming Scotty would never be so delusional as to try and kiss him or something. Then Scotty actually tries to kiss Dirk, and even though it goes a little better than expected (ie, Dirk doesn’t erupt into violent, coked-up gay-panic), it’s still devastating once Scotty starts calling himself Fuckin Idiot. It’s even more devastating because part of me still wants to laugh at Scotty, and laugh much harder than I might be willing to laugh at myself while looking back on my own Fuckin Idiot moments.
This performance is the epitome of the Fuckin Idiot moment.
I also like to remember PSH as a paragon of the Pig FUCK! moment: When an arrogant fraud lashes out at someone who dares to expose the truth. As Lancaster Dodd in The Master:
He says, “We are not helpless,” and he wishes he could believe it more. He adds, “And we are on a journey that risks the dark.” That much he’s sure of.