If it wasn’t for Philip Seymour Hoffman, my childhood self would have never asked where and how I could listen to Iggy Pop. And with the devastating news of his passing this weekend, it’s hard not to look back through his astounding career and remember just how many wonderful roles he lent his talents to over the years and how he played them with an authenticity and brilliance like no one else ever could.
But there are few characters more perfectly suited for Hoffman—and had a more poignant effect on me personally, than Hoffman’s performance as Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. I mean, let’s be real, will we ever be able to tell someone: Don’t let those swill merchants rewrite you, ever again without crying? And in the wake of his all too sudden death, many of his dear friends have expressed their personal sentiments on their loss, and yesterday, Crowe took to his website to post a statement about one of the best moments in Almost Famous—Hoffman’s impeccably acted and infamous, “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool,” scene.
See what Crowe had to say about the experience and watch the clip below.
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.