New York Daily News reporter Andy Martino tweeted that today’s piece about his former Fairport High School classmate in Rochester ranks as “the most emotionally complicated story I’ve ever reported.” So we should all be grateful that Martino forged through the complications and shared some wonderful memories of Philip Seymour Hoffman, on the anniversary of the actor’s death.
Martino (Class of 1999) journeyed back to his Alma Mater and spoke with his one-time English teacher John Baynes about Hoffman. Baynes, who taught Death of a Salesman alongside Hoffman eventually wowing in the school’s staged version of the play, recalled a telling classroom incident:
Contemporary Lit class, also Phil’s senior year. Mr. Baynes is teaching a poem. He looks out at the class, and Phil Hoffman is at his desk, making this weird face. All twisted up and goofy; mocking, but still respectful. Curious about something. Finally, Baynes says, “What is with the face, Hoffman?”
Baynes has a way of being tough and fun at the same time. Arches his eyebrow and knows how to give the attitude back to you. “I’m just watching the way you manipulate everyone,” Phil says. “You’re manipulating everything right now. Everybody in here.”
Baynes’ eyebrow probably crept up to his hairline at that one. “Yeah, it’s called teaching, Hoffman.”
Baynes told Martino he loves this story because it demonstrates, even then, how Hoffman was always trying to \»get under stuff, to get under to what’s really happening.\» RIP.
[Photo of Hoffman at a MetLife Stadium football game November 27, 2011: Debby Wong/Shutterstock.com]
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