John le Carré feels that the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman "burnt himself out" on one of his last movie roles, completed shortly before his death in February.
Hoffman, le Carré claimed, was a driven and intelligent man who found the world too much to handle. "Whenever he left the room, you were afraid you'd seen the last of him," he writes in an article for the New York Times.
Le Carré spent time with Hoffman on the set of the forthcoming spy thriller A Most Wanted Man, adapted from the author's 2008 novel. Hoffman stars in the film as Günther Bachmann, a jaded German intelligence officer on the trail of a suspected Chechen terrorist. It would prove to be one of his last completed films. Hoffman died from a drugs overdose just two weeks after attending A Most Wanted Man's premiere at the Sundance film festival.
Le Carré suggests that Hoffman burned too bright, too fast. "Philip took vivid stock of everything, all the time," he wrote. "It was painful and exhausting work, and probably in the end his undoing. The world was too bright for him to handle. He had to screw up his eyes or be dazzled to death."
Le Carré added that he feared for Hoffman's safety whenever he left the room. "And if that sounds like wisdom after the event, it isn't," he insisted. "Philip was burning himself out before your eyes. Nobody could live at his pace and stay the course."
The le Carré adaptation is one of a number of posthumous Hoffman films which remain under wraps, including John Slattery's God's Pocket and the final two instalments in the Hunger Games franchise. A Most Wanted Man is released in the US next Friday and in the UK on 12 September.
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