The Masters: 30 Best Paul Thomas Anderson Actors

From 'Hard Eight' to 'Inherent Vice,' we've ranked the MVPs of PTA's movies

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1. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Hoffman's greatness was never more evident than when he was acting for Anderson; he appeared in five of the director's films, more than any other actor. What's more, his range in these films is astonishing: The cocky good old boy who briefly takes on Philip Baker Hall at the craps table in Hard Eight; the repressed, pathetic sound man in Boogie Nights; the shy, kindhearted nurse in Magnolia; the hair-trigger furniture salesman/pimp/con-man in Punch Drunk Love. But Hoffman's final performance for Anderson was undeniably his greatest: As the vaguely L. Ron Hubbard-like cult leader Lancaster Dodd in The Master, he had to be avuncular, narcissistic, grandiose, paranoid, comforting, and domineering, sometimes all at once. He not only nailed all of these — he gave the character a humanity that tied all these elements together. If The Master is a film about the rootlessness of Homo Americanus after WWII, Hoffman's Dodd represents both the wolf that lays wait for lost souls and a lost soul himself. It's a terribly poignant performance, now made even sadder by the knowledge that this monumental actor will never again get to collaborate with his cinematic soul mate.

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