“Meditation is actually coming right up to the lip of death and saying, ‘I’m here, I’m scared, that’s life,'” Philip Seymour Hoffman said, midway into a 2012 interview that PBS has recently animated. “If you can actually live in that place [meditation], then that’s what happens. Learning how to die is therefore learning how to live.”
Hoffman sat for the interview, which was conducted by Simon Critchley at New York City’s Rubin Museum of Art, just over a year before his death, and the subjects at hand were deep – but PBS has animated the chat as part of its Blank on Blank series in a whimsical way. Hoffman described his acrimonious relationship with the concept of “pleasure,” the times that he feels happy (with his children) and why he felt the need to play such gut-wrenching roles. “If I don’t allow people to somehow identify with the worst inside themselves, they never have a chance of walking out with that person inside their heart or in their minds,” he said of the latter topic. “They’re too easy to dismiss. It might not be the thing to admit to a friend, but if you’re honest you probably kind of do.”
Hoffman died on February 2nd, 2014 of a mixture of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamine. A posthumous cover story in Rolling Stone revealed that Hoffman’s death did not come at the end of a downward spiral. Moreover, the actor’s friends did not feel he was on a suicidal streak; rather, his death was the result of a relapse gone bad.
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“People always say ‘life is short,’ and as we get older, time does quicken,” Hoffman said during his Rubin interview. “It’s long pertaining to that thought that the past is not done with you because you can’t get rid of it so therefore it just starts to drag… The past does creep in pretty quickly. And that is a difficult one in how to keep it there and not have it ruin it.”