Happiest of happy birthdays to @mindbarbarasoul!! One of the bravest, most honest, most lovely women I know!!
Phil Hoffman and I had two things in common. We were both fathers of young children, and we were both recovering drug addicts. Of course I’d known Phil’s work for a long time — since his remarkably perfect film debut as a privileged, cowardly prep-school kid in Scent of a Woman — but I’d never met him until the first table read for Charlie Wilson’s War, in which he’d been cast as Gust Avrakotos, a working-class CIA agent who’d fallen out of favor with his Ivy League colleagues. A 180-degree turn.
On breaks during rehearsals, we would sometimes slip outside our soundstage on the Paramount lot and get to swapping stories. It’s not unusual to have these mini-AA meetings — people like us are the only ones to whom tales of insanity don’t sound insane. “Yeah, I used to do that.” I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean.
So it’s in that spirit that I’d like to say this: Phil Hoffman, this kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor, who was never outwardly “right” for any role but who completely dominated the real estate upon which every one of his characters walked, did not die from an overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.
He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed — he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it. He’ll have his well-earned legacy — his Willy Loman that belongs on the same shelf with Lee J. Cobb’s and Dustin Hoffman’s, his Jamie Tyrone, his Truman Capote and his Academy Award. Let’s add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now.
1. Wash your bedsheets.
2. Spend half as much time feeling sorry for yourself as you spend doing something about it.
3. The word “twentysomething” describes your age. Stop using it as a crutch to drown in your limitations. The economy is shitty, healthcare is hard, and college loans are steeped. Still: you’re not a goddamn Time Magazine thinkpiece. You are a person who steers your own ship. Start being a captain.
4. Maintain a savings account that you can survive on for 3 “i’m fucked” months.
5. Take a leap. If you don’t do something you’re scared of now, you’re wasting your mortality.
6. Get back to doing some of the things you loved before all of that noise drowned it out.
7. You are an adult. Learn to drink like one.
8. Be fucking nicer.
9. Maintain your: friendships, fridge, and gmail folder
10. Stop underestimating yourself.
But, seriously, wash your sheets.
Number 4 is rough.