Though the hardworking actor has consistently been on the radar of theater and movie fans and critics throughout his nearly two decades of indie-leaning character work, the enigmatic Hoffman has rarely made headlines for anything beyond his unforgettable performances. Despite an early battle with alcoholism, Hoffman has stayed out of the gossip rags and always appeared to be on top of his game -- perhaps because he went to rehab right after college, and has stayed clean since then.
But these days the actor is making arguably more news than he ever has before: He's conquering Broadway and (possibly) taking on a blockbuster action film -- and he's doing it all on his own terms.
Hoffman's portrayal of Willy Loman in the Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman has earned him across-the-board raves -- he was considered by some to be the unchallenged front-runner for the Best Actor in a Play Tony Award this year.
That Mr. Hoffman is one of the finest actors of his generation is beyond dispute, noted Ben Brantley of the New York Times in a review for the classic Arthur Miller play.
Yet when the winner was announced on Sunday, many were shocked when James Cordon walked away with the coveted award. The One Man, Two Guvnors actor's win was a major upset in the category -- and it sounds like Hoffman might have been a bit upset about it.
He's A Free Agent Now
Immediately following his Tony loss, The Wrap reported that Hoffman parted ways with his agency, Paradigm Talent. He is said to be remaining without representation for now -- which is very unusual for an actor of his caliber. His withdrawal marks a significant loss for the company's talent pool, which includes Neil Patrick Harris and Chris Cooper. Hoffman has yet to confirm the news or the reason for his decision, but the timing suggests it might not be a coincidence.
If Hoffman does not secure a new agency for another several months, he will be representing himself during the release of what is bound to be one of his more talked-about roles: Hoffman appears in the upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson film The Master, which is set for theatrical release in the fall of 2012. The dark comedy is said to be a thinly veiled foray into the origins of The Church of Scientology, which counts Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Beck and many more high-profile, powerful Hollywood figures among its members. The Oscar winner stars as the cunning leader of his own religious organization (no doubt inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard). Set during the aftermath of World War II, around the same time Scientology emerged, it follows the magnetic cult leader as he gains a following. Though the film's trailer gives little away, the film is bound to rile up notable followers of the controversial religion. Anderson, who directed Cruise in Magnolia in 1999, is thought to have screened the film for the actor. According to The Wrap, the screening was a means of heading off a conflict with the group. Cruise has yet to comment publicly on the film.
It's a bold move for any actor to take on a role that will carry long-term associations with the much-maligned Church of Scientology -- and one that could easily inspire the church's wrath. But Hoffman long ago proved himself to be a fearless performer.
Hoffman in 'The Hunger Games'
Rumors surrounding the casting of The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire are nothing new -- but according to a slew of credible reports, Hoffman is being considered for a major role in the project: According to Entertainment Weekly, Hoffman is being courted for the role of Plutarch Heavensbee. Plutarch, the complex, allegiance-swapping Gamemaker, also has a pivotal role in Mockingjay, the third book in the trilogy. This is the first known casting offer, aside from deals made with the original cast, which Lionsgate has made for the highly anticipated project.
Hoffman's involvement in the film would mark his first high-profile action film since he appeared in Mission Impossible 3 in 2006. The 1996 guilty pleasure Twister is the only other blockbuster in his filmography.