Philip Seymour Hoffman: Behind TIME’s Photo of the Powerful Actor

We at TIME LightBox were very saddened to hear of the Feb. 2, 2014 death of actor and director Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman is probably best known for winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the 2005 film Capote, and for obtaining three nominations for Best Supporting Actor throughout this career. He was also a three time Tony Award nominee, and played Willy Loman in the Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman in 2012.

In 2013, TIME asked photographer Paola Kudacki to take this striking portrait of Philip Seymour Hoffman as part of our Great Performances portfolio. Hoffman had just been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Lancaster Dodd in The Master.

Kudacki remembers being excited to photograph Hoffman, whom she was with in studio for mere minutes: “He was one of the most talented actors, and every time he was in a movie I had to see it,” she says. “But we didn’t have much time at the shoot, so I was talking to him to keep him engaged.”

“His professionalism was immediately apparent,” adds TIME Senior Photo Editor Natalie Matutschovsky, who oversaw the shoot. “He gave off an energy that lent a particular intensity to Paola’s portrait.”

As part of the Great Performances portfolio that year, Hoffman spoke to TIME about his role, saying that his character in The Master made loose reference to Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. “There are things he does that are referenced in L. Ron Hubbard’s life,” he added, “but ultimately there is no adherence to any fact. We took liberties because he is a fictional character.”


Paola Kudacki is a photographer based in New York. She previously photographed Kathryn Bigelow for the cover of TIME.

Natalie Matutschovsky is a Senior Photo Editor for TIME. 


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