READ about Piers Morgan's long career in journalism here.
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“Friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong.”
So went the lingering words of Lester Bangs (played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) in Cameron Crowe’s Oscar-winning film, “Almost Famous,” (2000) a movie dedicated to telling the story of early 1970s rock and roll.
More than a decade since his inspiring performance as the mentor to the film's lead character, on Sunday Hoffman was pronounced dead as the result of what authorities are calling an apparent heroin overdose. Having struggled with substance abuse throughout much of his life, the Oscar-winning actor was found unconscious in his New York apartment by his good friend, playwright and screenwriter, David Bar Katz, reportedly with a needle still in his arm.
In “Almost Famous,” Bangs shares his insight and tutelage with young William Miller (played by Patrick Fugit), who is chasing aspirations of becoming a rock and roll journalist for "Rolling Stone" magazine. The two share many candid and memorable scenes in the film, discussing a wide range of topics including drugs, “being cool” and, naturally, music.
On Tuesday, "Piers Morgan Live" welcomed Fugit for a live interview, during which the actor shared memories of his time working with Hoffman, and his reaction to the news of his passing:
“It was my first time around actors of that caliber. Philip, and Billy Crudup, and Jason Lee and all those guys,” said Fugit, revealing that “Almost Famous” was his first big role.
Working closely with Hoffman, Fugit was struck by the actor's ability to hone his craft, whether it was showing up in character or holding his colleagues to his own high standards:
"Watching him and seeing the amount of preparation and the amount of thought and care that went into what he was doing on set those days was a new level,” he told Piers Morgan.
Morgan then turned to the subject of Hoffman’s struggles with substance abuse, noting that while he was sober while filming “Almost Famous,” he'd already spent a stint in rehab. However, as Fugit indicated in a New York Post article he penned following news of Hoffman's death, demons from the past still seemed to played a role in his acting:
“There was a certain weight that came with him" Fugit said in the article. "There was sort of a darkness. That’s part of what made his acting so compelling and complete.”
Morgan asked Fugit to expand on this aspect of Hoffman’s career and his life, to which Fugit offered this analysis:
“It also seems bled into the way that he chose his roles and chose the films that he ended up in.”