Philip Seymour Hoffman: "Learning how to die is...learning how to live"

The actor muses over happiness, pleasure and pain in an unearthed recording from 2012

By Prachi Gupta
June 4, 2014 2:42AM (UTC)
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(Victoria Will/invision/ap)

PBS Digital Studios has released another gripping never-before-heard interview as part of its Blank on Blank series, this time with late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. On screen, Hoffman was known for his moving performances of lonely people with dark secrets, like in "Doubt" and "The Master". Off screen, Hoffman struggled with drug addiction, which led to his untimely death at the age of 46 in February.

In a conversation with Simon Critchley at the Rubin Museum of Art in 2012, Hoffman revealed some of the existential questions that torture him -- musings about the elusive nature of happiness, the pain inherent in all pleasure, and the power of being able to identify and acknowledge the existential fears we all face as humans.


"Meditation is actually coming right up to the lip of death, and saying, 'I'm here, I'm scared.' That's life." said Hoffman in the recording. "If you can actually live in that place...learning how to die is therefore learning how to live."

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Blank On Blank Death Happiness Life Pain Pbs Digital Studios Philip Seymour Hoffman Pleasure Video