In 2014, the world of film—and film audiences—lost a great light. The actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away tragically at age 46 after a brilliant career spanning from cult classics like The Big Lebowski to an Academy Award for his performance in Capote. Born and raised in Fairport, a suburb of Rochester, New York, Hoffman has been greatly missed by many, particularly in his hometown. Now his likeness is immortalized in bronze outside the iconic George Eastman Museum in Rochester, a pilgrimage site for film lovers around the world.
The life-sized statue was originally created for a New York City site, but it fit so well at a temporary exhibit at the museum that organizers donated it permanently. Designed by David A. Annand and commissioned by producer James Declan Tobin, the statue depicts Hoffman happily striding with a script in hand. He appears to be headed to the Dryden Theater, the museum's specialty cinema which screens old movies—including incredibly rare original, nitrate films. The museum itself is situated in the elegant mansion of George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company.
The institution is the world's oldest museum dedicated to photography. Its photography collections and motion picture film archives are legendary and responsible for preserving much of 20th-century visual history. “The greatest actor of my generation has come home to the community that loves him,” Tobin said of the statue's placement. “This is where Phil belongs. I wanted a home that is worthy of Phil, and we have it at the Dryden Theatre, which is a classic temple of film. He is on the move, a script in his bag, walking toward the theater he so loved.”
Hoffman's mother, Marilyn O'Connor, approved of the “loving memorial” to her beloved son. “The Eastman Museum's decision to retain the sculpture makes me very happy,” she said. “There was an enthusiastic response to having this beautiful statue of Phil at the museum. This is what the Rochester community wanted.”
For those in the area, or who wish to visit, the museum is also running a series of Hoffman's film all year, totaling 24 works. “There was a lot of silence after Phil died,” Tobin said. “He was with us, so brilliant, so powerfully present, and then he slipped away. I wanted to keep the light going. I wanted Phil's family to know the impact he had on me and the world.”
A statue of the late, great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman will stand outside the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York.