While I’m still trying to scrape Step Brother from the bottom of my shoe, the folks at the Vulture scratch their heads over the divergent career paths of John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The two actors started out on similarly promising paths and they even appeared in several films together including Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight, Boogie Nights and Magnolia. On stage they were in Sam Shepard’s True West, which called for them to alternate characters from one night to the next.

In the last few years, Hoffman seems to have continued to grow. He’s got an Oscar for Capote and last year alone he delivered three outstanding and unique performances in The Savages, Charlie Wilson’s War and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Meanwhile John C. Reilly followed up Talladega Nights with Rock Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and this year he was in the above-mentioned Step Brothers.

I think Vulture is underestimating the value of comedy and I think they’re overlooking some bright spots in Reilly’s recent filmography (Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion springs to mind), but it reminded me of a 2000 episode of Charlie Rose where the two actors talked about their work on True West. Rose is his usual irritating self, but you can’t argue with the quality of guests he gets. By this time Reilly and Hoffman had both been seen in Boogie Nights and Magnolia, but I don’t know if they were exactly household names yet. Who knew one would end up with an Oscar while the other would be stuck in a rut playing man-children.


29 Responses to “PS Hoffman vs. JC Reilly”

  1. A Prairie Home Companion was such a sweet movie, and Reilly played his best man-child ever, and he should have called it quits then. I think that Ferrell is a bad influence.

  2. I like to think Reilly will bounce back. But maybe he’ll bcome addicted to the money.

  3. I never thought of lumping those two together, but I dan see it. This reminds me of that Two Stars, One Slot feature they used to do on Fametracker.com. I miss those.

    I don’t think Reilly’s going to stay velcroed to Ferrell forever. He’s got more drama in him. And just this year, he did The Promotion, which I hear isn’t bad.

    Now when PSH stars in Blades of Glory 2: Even Spandexier, then I’ll worry.

  4. Completely agreed, Nick. I defended A Prairie Home Companion (and Reilly’s performance therein) at Movie-Zeal. It’s the one comedy I’m truly glad Reilly took.

    In any event, I’ve sort of had this thought as well for a while. Hoffman has truly come into his own as a great American actor, something many of us knew he was for years, and it’s an absolute joy to see him become more and more acknowledged with each film, each year.

    Reilly, sadly, has been spinning his wheels in movies I’m mostly not interested in ever seeing. Ferrell is definitely a bad influence.

  5. Prairie needs defending somewhere? Send up the Monkey Signal!

    That movie was a terrific capstone to a wonderful career.

    JB, somehow I don’t think PSH will ever stoop that low…although he did stoop pretty low in Todd Solondz’s Happiness…

  6. I love Happiness and Hoffman’s performance in it. But the film really isn’t for everyone, or perhaps I should say it really isn’t for most people.

    I’m sure Reilly is making good decisions from his own point of view – he’s done too many films of late that ask so little of his craft to think that these choices are not deliberate. It’s we who miss out that he’s not sought and/or accepted more complex characters.

  7. What I love about the Vulture piece is that they end up concluding, almost despite themselves, that Reilly might be having more fun (and money). But yeah, Hoffman definitely chose the more prestigious path.

  8. It’s pretty sad, the route JCR has gone, because he truly is one of those actors I think is capable of anything.

    In dramatic films, I find he’s always stuck in the loser husband role (Chicago, The Good Girl), and he’s got a knack for comedy which may have caused him to go for lighter roles. I wouldn’t have a problem with him doing comedy save for the fact that he doesn’t know how to pick comedic roles that suit his talents.

  9. I know Reilly is capable of so much more range than being Will Ferrell-lite implies, but when I try to think about his career the man-child roles seem to stick out the strongest. I suppose that’s partly due to his memorable supporting roles in Hard Eight and Boogie Nights. Even Magnolia is still mostly a twist on his lovable buffoon character.

    Hey, it’s PT Anderson’s fault! Blame him! At least PTA didn’t type cast Hoffman repeatedly.

  10. Since I’m not above plagiarizing myself in comments at multiple places. I submit this evidence:

    John C. Reilly, prior to 2005:
    Casualties of War
    Days of Thunder
    What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
    The River Wild
    Boogie Nights
    The Thin Red Line
    For Love of the Game
    The Perfect Storm
    The Anniversary Party
    The Good Girl
    Gangs of New York
    The Hours
    The Aviator

    John C. Reilly, since 2005:
    A Prairie Home Companion (actually didn’t see it)
    Talladega Nights
    Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (didn’t see it)
    Year of the Dog (didn’t see it)
    Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
    The Promotion (didn’t see it)
    Step Brothers

    It’s a fair point that we write off comedy too easily, but from what I’ve seen, Reilly’s has been the kind of comedy that deserves it.

    P.S. Did anybody else like The Anniversary Party?

  11. I liked parts of the Anniversary Party, but didn’t take much away from it. Further, I can’t even remember him being in it. I also don’t recall him in Hoffa, The Hours, The Aviator, or What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

    It’s entirely possible my mind is going but I think maybe Reilly just didn’t make a strong impression in those parts. Hoffman, on the other hand, always leaves an impression on me. I’m not saying that to make a dig at Reilly, just that now that it has been brought up I’ve noticed a distinct difference in the take-away between them for me.

  12. JCR played, certainly not for the first time, the husband of an unhappy wife (Julianne Moore) in The Hours, he played Leonardo DiCaprio’s accountant (something like that) in The Aviator, and Johnny Depp’s friend who dreams of working in fast food in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Small roles, but he’s good.

  13. Sartre, I sat through Happiness twice. The first time I thought it was a pretty wicked comedy, but the 2nd time through (and after subsequently watching most of the rest of Solondz’s work) I began to look at is as shock for shock’s sake and I’m no longer impressed.

  14. Thanks k, but I got nothing there. Maybe it’s just been too long since I’ve seen those films but The Hours and The Aviator are fairly recent.

    (scratches head…shrugs)

    I’m not saying he wasn’t good.

  15. “It’s entirely possible my mind is going”.

    Yeah, I wasn’t entirely comforted by your explanation for the discrepancy between your own calculations and that of the twin 9000.

  16. I did feel bad for John C. Reilly, continually playing the husband to an unhappy wife.

    Guess he figured if he was going to be the butt of jokes and the cause of snickers in dramas and even a musical, he might as well be in comedies and play outright man-children.

  17. Haha sartre.

    Alexander, I’m expecting the imminent release announcement of the John C Reilly Man-Child DVD box set any day now. I think I already have the ones I’d want though.

  18. It comes wrapped in a diaper.

  19. Hahaha… I’ll be sure to avoid it.

  20. Come on guys, we’re acting like Hoffman has never done an awful comedy. The year before he won his oscar, he was doing Along Came Polly.

  21. “Send up the monkey signal.” Hardy hardy har….

    This is why I adore you, Craig. Always have. Always will.

    We’ll have A LOT to talk about one day. Believe me.

    Uh…CHARLIE ROSE is irritating? NOT TO ME. At one time, he was in my Top 5 makeout list.

    I’ll never forget that conversation he had with BONNIE RAITT about passion. He said he was a romantic. But she said sometimes in the summer it was too hot to do anything. He disagreed.

    Uhh…Come to me, my melancholy baby.

    He’s brilliant. Never underestimate boys from the Southern states. Charming as hell. Butter wouldn’t melt in their precious mouths.

    Or anything else for that matter…..

  22. Um, yeah. I wholeheartedly agree with Mademoiselle Wilding: Charlie Rose is incredibly sexy. He is smart, can comfortably engage with heads of state, economists, and Fiona Apple…and all in one hour. He is equally prepared and inquisitive for all of his guests. If you want to see one of the greatest interviews ever, check out Rose’s sit down with Sophia Loren: http://www.charlierose.com/shows/2002/08/02/1/a-rebroadcast-of-an-hour-with-italian-actress-sophia-loren

    ETA: Or this enthralling interview with La Binoche: http://www.charlierose.com/shows/1997/01/21/2/an-interview-with-juliette-binoche

    After seeing that, I just *knew* that if the right people were watching, she would go on to win the Oscar. Very moving stuff.

    Charlie. Don’t. Surf. Or. Does. Bad. Interviews.

  23. My beef with Charlie is that he interrupts too much. That’s fine if he’s got boring guests, but not when they’re interesting and good communicators.

    Zip it Chuck and let the folks talk.

    Just a personal thing.

  24. That’s fine, Craig. We love you just as much, my precious crabcake.

    But I knew I could count on the goddess D. Girls have to stick together.

    Come what may…

  25. OK, that I’ll give you; the interrupting thing can be very, very annoying :) but you must admit he’s about the best interviewer out there today, no? He actually shows substantive knowledge about each interviewee and their craft and tends to avoid all salaciousness. That, in itself, is quite the triumph.

  26. Miranda, you just made me laugh out loud. Charlie Rose on a Top 5 Make Out List? Heheehee. You never cease to surprise me. Which is one of the things i love about you.

  27. Awww, thanks, jenny.

    There are two things I will never be: predictable or boring – and the people that are close to me love me for those qualities.

    Or at least get used to them.

    Yeah, I guess some people are sometimes occasionally taken aback by who would conceivably top my fabulous makeout list.

    But just as an aside between you and me…

    Dudes that have an excellent chance of making it in there would have ANY of these things going on:

    blond, strawberry blond or brown haired

    blue eyed

    slender or buff (but NOT overly muscular)

    English, Irish (or from somewhere in the British Isles), of Italian descent or from the Southern U.S

    hot speaking voice or a discernable accent

    passionate about all of the important things

    great wit

    fabulous intellect or at least curious about abstract concepts and the world we live in

    works in the entertainment field or is an artsy type of some description – or at least has an interest in the arts

    has some style – can dress cool without his mommy’s help

    loves to talk

    is a sensitive human being and not a dick

    I don’t hesitate to say that, on my famous fantasy boys makeout list, they don’t need to have ALL of these qualities. One will do. That’s all.

    In the real world I have a Top 5. Three things are non negotiable. The other two are just gravy. I have dated people that only had two but it just made it that much easier to throw in the towel.

    I think that about covers it. Of course my celebrity makeout list is quite a bit different than the one that I have in reality. They both change ALL THE TIME.

    Since I broke up with my latest boy I’ve been spending time with one ex in particular.

    But I have a feeling things will pick up.

    Yes indeed…

    And I bet you guys thought that LiC was a noneducational resource….

  28. My beef with Charlie is that he interrupts too much.

    It’s like the Charlie Rose parody in For Your Consideration, in the montage of all the folks from Home For Purim doing press. HFP’s two writers were on a Charlie Rose-like show, and he kept asking questions, then just as they would answer, he would add MORE the question while answering it for them.

  29. Exactly K! But Dorothy and Miranda are right. He’s smart, well prepared and he asks good questions (though he’s sometimes shaky on the follow-ups), plus there just aren’t that many interview programs where you get to spend 30 minutes to an hour with quality guests. This is why I complain but watch him anyway.

    The great Lewis Black was on the other night and Charlie interrupted him mid-joke to interject his own little joke. I wanted to smack him! But then where else are you gonna see Lewis Black talking for 30 minutes?

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