Video: Philip Seymour Hoffman on heroes

The late Philip Seymour Hoffman explains why great people are more complicated than we know.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman at a press conference for The Ides of March in 2011.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has died aged 46, was known for playing flawed or anguished individuals, men tormented by their own failings and inadequacies. In this short extract from a BFI London Film Festival press conference for The Ides of March in 2011, Hoffman explains why he doesn’t believe in heroes and that the joy of being an actor is the chance “to demystify what it means to be a human being”. 

I don’t think there are heroes anywhere. I don’t think they exist. I think people do great things in their lives and great things for mankind. But you don’t know what they’re like at home, you know, or like, or what they’re like alone or whatever. You know what I mean?
 
I mean, I think that’s kind of… it’s hard to be, period, a hero, and I think that’s one pleasure about being an actor is that, every time you play a part, you get to demystify what it means to be a human being in a way. You know?
 
That’s really, I think, a beautiful thing, you know. And I do agree that all the parts in this film, it’s not a hero or a villain, you know. I see compromise, but I also see not compromising. There’s compromising that’s happening. Also there’s non-compromising. My character causes a lot of trouble because he has no interest in compromising, you know.
 
And so a lot of different things go on in this story. It was very attractive to me.

Watch the press conference in full.

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