Uh… is there a safe word?!
[Image via Steven Klein/Interview Magazine.]
Acting has truly lost one of its greats.
"Philip hit us, year after year, with constant magic, changing himself with each performance. What put him on the level of chameleons like Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep and Benicio Del Toro was his sculptural way of acting. By sculptural, I mean his characters seemed to be intricately carved. From The Master to Along Came Polly, all of his characters have this indelible quality. As Michelangelo said of his own work: 'I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.' This is how Philip’s characters feel—like they were real people living their deep and odd lives and were pulled onto the screen to deliver the most intense aspects of themselves. But Philip didn’t just deliver realism, he also tinged each one with the patina of greatness, which goes back to the sculpture idea—his performances had a lapidary quality. They were harder than human, but simultaneously blessed with the inner spark of humanity. They were more human than human."
Indeed, Philip's characters could always be counted on to pop out of the screen and steal the show with sizzling intensity.
Later on this piece, James talked about Philip's struggle with addiction, saying that he was "a very special someone…was sick:"
"The last time I ran into Philip was at Bar Centrale, a theater restaurant, when he came in with a group that included Chris Rock, Zach Braff, and a bunch of great stage actors. At the time, I had read that Philip had gone to rehab for heroin. I was shocked, because you don’t think that a person who absolutely everyone acknowledges as great, would have such problems. But that was foolish, because addiction cares nothing for personality. It is an illness, not a matter of will, class, intelligence, or lifestyle. I have no idea what happened to Phil before he was found dead, but a friend of mine told me they saw him the day before he passed and he looked happy. This says to me that Philip was not someone who had given up. He didn't throw it all away. He was just someone—a very special someone—who was sick. His death is shocking to us because his greatness made him seem invincible. At the very least, all the incredible art he gave us should warrant him another chance.
Rest in peace Phil, you will live on forever in the fire of your work that burned its way into our hearts."
You're right, James. Philip and his larger than life art made him seem indestructible.
It's such a heartbreaking shame that we lost this creative giant way before his time.