Filmmaking Articles and Film Directing Advice from Film Director Peter D. Marshall
Staring at the Flame – John le Carré on Philip Seymour Hoffman
byPeter D. MarshallonAugust 5, 2014
by John le Carré.
I reckon I spent five hours at most in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s close company, six at a pinch. Otherwise it was standing around with other people on the set of “A Most Wanted Man,” watching him on the monitor and afterward telling him he was great, or deciding better to keep your thoughts to yourself. I didn’t even do a lot of that: a couple of visits to the set, one silly walk-on part that required me to grow a disgusting beard, took all day and delivered a smudgy picture of somebody I was grateful not to recognize.
There’s probably nobody more redundant in the film world than a writer of origin hanging around the set of his movie, as I’ve learned to my cost. Alec Guinness actually did me the favor of having me shown off the set of the BBC’s TV adaptation of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” All I was wanting to do was radiate my admiration, but Alec said my glare was too intense.
Come to think of it, Philip did the same favor for a woman friend of ours one afternoon on the shoot of “A Most Wanted Man” in Hamburg that winter of 2012. She was standing in a group 30-odd yards away from him, just watching and getting cold like everybody else. But something about her bothered him, and he had her removed. It was a little eerie, a little psychic, but he was bang on target because the woman in the case is a novelist, too, and she can do intensity with the best of us. Philip didn’t know that. He just sniffed it.
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