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How Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Son Ended Up Starring In Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza, the latest offering from writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, is missing one trademark element that is present in the majority of the filmmaker's movies: a performance from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. The two worked together on many modern classics – including Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, and The Master – up until the Oscar-winning actor’s untimely death in 2014. However, one heartwarming element to come out of the terribly sad loss is that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son, Cooper Hoffman, is upholding his father’s legacy with his own stellar performance in a PTA film.

Cooper Hoffman stars alongside Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza (alongside an all-star cast of cinematic talent) and one thing that the two performers shared in common is that it's their big screen debut. I recently spoke with Haim to discuss the project, and as a Philip Seymour Hoffman superfan, I couldn’t help but address how rewarding it is to see Cooper work with PT Anderson. According to the her, however, it has far less to do with legacy than I had initially assumed, as Cooper landed the role based on his own merit after an extensive audition process. She explained:

The second that me and Cooper read, it was like, everything that I had ever wanted had come true in Cooper. I mean, I had read with so many people and we just didn't have a connection. Me and Cooper were lucky enough to kind of be friends before – I had met him three or two or three times before. But when he read Gary and I read Alana, I mean, it was terrible. We were terrible in the beginning. I'm not going to say like we were like Meryl Streep and, you know, Jack Nicholson. We were definitely not that. We were stumbling through the the dialog, but the connection was there already.

Continuing, Alana Haim added that coming from similar places and working together with Cooper Hoffman ultimately boosted their confidence in unison going into production:

Once I read with Cooper, I knew that I could do it, and I think he kind of felt the same way. So I really do think it was like a universal thing where he was just always meant to play Gary, regardless of the, you know, connection between his dad and Paul.

While the fact that Cooper Hoffman has stepped in for his father to continue the storied history of Hoffman/Anderson collaboration is no doubt an amazing Hollywood story, Alana Haim wanted to be very clear that Cooper’s talent is what got him the part, not his father’s history with PTA. In a way, this makes the story more interesting, because like Haim said it’s a “universal thing” where he was always meant to play Gary. So we’ll chalk this one up to destiny.

To say that Hoffman simply “played” the part is an understatement: he shines in the role. He and Alana Haim are both nominated for Golden Globes for their performances, in addition to the two other nominations the film received. This is likely just the beginning of the accolades that will hopefully come the film’s way as awards season picks up.

You can catch Licorice Pizza already in theaters, and I highly suggest you check it out if you haven't caught it already. As for everything else coming down the pipeline after the upcoming New Year, we have you covered with our 2022 movie release calendar.

Jeff is a film buff who is ridden with gratitude that he gets to spout opinions about them for a living. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he enjoys feeding his addiction to buying furniture on Amazon.