Mindfulness & Awareness

"I Think I Kill Pleasure": Philip Seymour Hoffman on Happiness and Awareness

In this animated interview, Hoffman reflects on his children, happiness, and life and death. 

New York’s Rubin Museum of Art originally posted a video of a conversation they hosted between Philip Seymour Hoffman and philosopher Simon Critchley. The conversation is part of an RMA series called "Happy Talk."

PBS turned part of that interview into an animated, five-minute video. Hoffman's thoughts on real happiness, and how we suffer when we try to hold on to pleasure, helps shine a light on his personal struggle and also the nature of happiness generally.  

"There's a period of time in your life where you look back and think, 'Was I happy or was I just not aware?'" Hoffman says. "You reach a time where you go, 'I don't know,' and it really does upend a lot of things in your own life, in your own mind."

He noted that he had three children—Willa, Tallulah, and Conner. “I think I’m happy when I’m with them and they’re OK. When I see them enjoying each other in front of me and they let me enjoy them in turn, that brings a feeling which I would say is happiness.” He said he knew that in some sense this was because they were his children, “but I’m like, ‘Right now, right now, this is it.’”

Hoffman died in his New York apartment in February, at age 46, of an accidental overdose. He died less than a year after what he said was a successful period in rehab, having been sober for the previous 23 years.