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Big Lebowski Philip Seymour Hoffman

No Small Roles

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s 10 Best Supporting Roles

Catch Boogie Nights this month on IFC.

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It’s a testament to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s talents as an actor that you don’t automatically associate him with a few career defining starring roles, even though he had them in The Master and Capote. No matter how much screen time his characters had in a film, and whether he was playing a lonely everyman or a cocky rich kid, Hoffman always brought them to life in a way that was captivating. In honor of the late, great, actor, here are Philip Seymour Hoffman’s most memorable supporting roles. And be sure to catch him in Boogie Nights this month on IFC.

10. The Ides of March, Paul Zara

In this Ryan Gosling/George Clooney political thriller, it’s Hoffman who brings the necessary gravitas as the grizzled campaign veteran providing a lesson in loyalty. Watching a Philip Seymour Hoffman character tell a story is like hearing Itzhak Perlman playing the violin. Few actors could bring truth to a scene without ever having to raise their voice.


9. Punch Drunk Love, Dean Trumbell

20002’s Punch Drunk Love is mostly remembered as being the one film that was able to bring out a strong performance in a dramatic role from Adam Sandler. But the reveal of Philip Seymour Hoffman as the sleazy Dean Trumbell, who manages the phone sex line that was trying to extort money from Sandler’s lonely protagonist Barry Egan, was a treat for the audience. Hoffman’s blow-dried hairstyle helps create the look of a sleazebag and his character hilariously spars with Egan’s rage-filled lonely man with love on his side.


8. The Talented Mr. Ripley, Freddie Miles

In The Talented Mr. Ripley, Hoffman used his talents to portray a privileged playboy with a cocky attitude and a flamboyance that wouldn’t be out of place in The Great Gatsby. The scene in which he sees through Ripley’s charade is brilliantly played by Hoffman as he enjoys getting a rise out of the young interloper. A rare straight man role for Hoffman that demonstrated he could play both blue bloods and oddballs with equal flair.


7. Magnolia, Phil Parma

In a cast filled with veteran character actors and movie stars, Hoffman shows once again he is both, delivering a subtle but powerful performance as one of the film’s few truly goodhearted characters. Here he plays Phil Parma, a nurse providing care to the ailing Earl Patridge, played by the legendary Jason Robards in his final role. Phil’s story revolves around him doggedly trying to track down Earl’s son Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise) and fulfill his dying wish.


6. Hard Eight, Young Craps Player

Hard Eight was Paul Thomas Anderson’s directorial debut, and kicked off a long-running partnership with Hoffman. In this dark drama about the seedy side of the gambler’s life in Vegas, Hoffman plays a cocky young craps player with a mullet to match his attitude. He brings a Travolta-like flair to his brief back-and-forth with the stoic Philip Baker Hall. Watch the scene and witness a classic acting tennis match.


5. The Big Lebowski, Brandt

Great actors love to work with great directors and Philip Seymour Hoffman fit perfectly into the Coen Brothers’ hilariously quirky world. Hoffman’s uncomfortable facial expressions alone are hilarious in his brief scenes as Brandt, the titular Big Lebowski’s perpetually uptight assistant. His nervous laugh is a quirky finishing touch to the character.


4. Along Came Polly, Sandy Lyle

Along Came Polly is one of the rare underrated Ben Stiller romcoms of the 2000s, with some legitimate funny moments and great performances by Alec Baldwin, Hank Azaria and Philip Seymour Hoffman in small roles. Hoffman is hilarious as a washed-up former teen actor who had a brief bit of fame in a 1980s “Brat Pack”-type movie called Crocodile Tears. You might want to clear your throat before watching Hoffman as Sandy Lyle deliver one of the funniest speeches you’ll ever see in a comedy.


3. Charlie Wilson’s War, Gust Avrakotos

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Gust Avrakotos is a cantankerous, rough-around-the-edges CIA operative who lives in the background of foreign affairs. He teams up with Tom Hank’s charming Texas schmoozer of a Congressman in a clandestine operation to provide Afghani rebels arms in their war against the Soviets. Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and his brash, slovenly spy elevates every scene with Hanks’ Charlie Wilson. Hoffman relishes the little nuances of his character, like the way a cigarette dangles from his mouth as he holds a cup of coffee.


2. Almost Famous, Lester Bangs

What was so great about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance as rock journalist Lester Bangs? “In a word…everything.” Bangs wasn’t just talking to naïve young journalist William Miller when he reminds him that it’s okay to be uncool; he’s talking to anyone who has ever been a teenager. Hoffman’s Lester Bangs provides the gruff and comforting voice of reason to the wide-eyed William, helping him to realize that the rock-and-roll lifestyle isn’t all fame, fortune and groupies.


1. Boogie Nights, Scotty

It’s hard to stick out in a film overflowing with iconic performances, but Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Scotty lingers in your memory long after the disco ball has come down. Scotty, in his too-tight tank tops, doesn’t quite look right next to the attractive porn actors but he fits in perfectly with this group of misfits. In a movie where Mark Wahlberg wears a prosthetic dong, Scotty strikes a surprising chord of loneliness and unrequited love that anyone can relate to. Watching the film now is a reminder of great things to come for Philip Seymour Hoffman, and of how much his talents are missed by movie fans.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.