Since Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death last week, there’s a been an understandably huge amount written about the actor’s addiction issues.
Read any article and you’ll see the gory details: the 70 bags of heroin found in his apartment, the plethora of needles and prescription meds. But so many are quick to talk about how it was an overdose that killed the actor, that the crazy amount of drugs found with him at the time of his death are the reason he died, rather than focusing on the fact that he died because of his addiction.
“The West Wing” writer Aaron Sorkin believes that we should stop focusing on the word “overdose” in the wake of his friend’s death, and focus on the addiction that killed him.
“So it’s in that spirit that I’d like to say this: Phil Hoffman, this kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor, who was never outwardly ‘right’ for any role but who completely dominated the real estate upon which every one of his characters walked, did not die from an overdose of heroin–he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine,” Sorkin wrote in a piece for Time.
“Phil Hoffman and I had two things in common. We were both fathers of young children, and we were both recovering drug addicts… On breaks during rehearsals, we would sometimes slip outside… and get to swapping stories. It’s not unusual to have these mini-AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings–people like us are the only ones to whom tales of insanity don’t sound insane… I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: ‘If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.’ He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean.”
“He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed–he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it. He’ll have his well-earned legacy–his Willy Loman that belongs on the same shelf with Lee J. Cobb’s and Dustin Hoffman’s, his Jamie Tyrone, his Truman Capote and his Academy Award. Let’s add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now.”
J-Connection: Aaron Sorkin is Jewish.