Like many folks, I’m still shocked and saddened about the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman yesterday. He left us too soon.
Writers across the web have been paying tribute by taking a look at some of his most iconic film roles. But as a long-time observer of the clandestine art of unlicensed radio, I cannot forget Hoffman’s turn as “The Count,” an American DJ aboard a 1960s British pirate radio ship in “Pirate Radio” (known as “The Boat that Rocked” outside the US).
To me the character represents both the romantic place the Rock N Roll DJ once held in our culture, as well as the less-romantic reality of a personality whose off-mic qualities don’t quite measure up to the world he creates on air. Hoffman believably captured both The Count’s bravado-filled showmanship in the broadcast booth and more reclusive–though still randy–side in his cabin.
As he discussed in this interview clip, Hoffman observes how The Count, who saw himself as the world’s greatest DJ delivering Rock N Roll “medicine,” was good at showing up to a happening at just the right time, even though he tended otherwise to keep to himself in the pirate ship’s close quarters.
In this clip Hoffman, as The Count, threatens to challenge the time-honored broadcast ban on the “f-word,” casually comparing its lack of effect to the more devastating consequences of shooting a bullet or dropping a bomb (the language is, obviously, NSFW, unless you work on a pirate radio ship).
Hoffman leaves behind one of the greatest acting legacies of his generation, and an absence that cannot be filled.