Tribute's Bonnie Laufer chats with Philip Seymour Hoffman about finally getting leading man status in Love Liza.

B.L. How nice to have your brother actually write a script just for you and a starring role at that!
P.S.H. I know, not too shabby.

B.L. What was it about this script when you read it that really intrigued you about taking on this disturbed character?
P.S.H. There were so many things. I thought that the humor and the way that the story was told and you never really knew what was going to happen from scene to scene. His path to eventually letting go and moving on. It was an extraordinary one and very interesting and it kept me intrigued and interested.

B.L. Was it tough for you to play this guy?
P.S.H. Yes, emotionally it was a tiring story to tell, definitely, but very satisfying.

B.L. The character has a lot of problems and resorts to huffing gas. Some of the scenes were hard to watch because you just can't imagine yourself doing something like that.
P.S.H. I can't either... Well, actually, I can imagine doing it, I guess. I had just really worked on it and found some people who had done it and being high. It's really about being out of yourself and I think that's really what he's doing.

B.L. You have done so many different types of roles in your career, where did you have to go to play someone that depressed and screwed up?
P.S.H. Where do I go inside myself? Oh god... you go to a lot of places. You'd be surprised what you think of and what you start to ruminate about.

B.L. Working with your brother, was that tough?
P.S.H. It was fine. He wasn't on the set at all so when I was actually working on the film he wasn't around and that was good because he had kind of all of his work and now I was going to do mine. It was actually a lot less stressful than I thought. We are two very big personalities but it wasn't stressful with him at all.

B.L. You also starred in Punch Drunk Love with Adam Sandler last year, directed by your pal P.T. Anderson. How did you enjoy working on that?
P.S.H. That was great, I always love working with P.T. It was a lot of fun playing the nightmare in Adam's life in that movie. My slimy character really causes a lot of upheaval and it was a riot.

B.L You have made several films with P.T. Anderson. Why does it work so well between you two?
P.S.H. The way he writes and the characters that he comes up with I think are really complex and there are a lot of stakes to them and colorful. There is nothing dull and they are really vibrant. There's a lot of confrontation and conflict and there's an excitement about people really dealing with life in his movies. I love acting in his movies because you can really get into the role, no holds barred.

B.L. Which of your films has been your most satisfying role?
P.S.H. Of his?

B.L. Yes.
P.S.H. Oh god, I don't know. That is so hard to answer. Magnolia and Boogie Nights were great, but I liked doing all four of his films. I liked watching Punch Drunk Love and I really liked the part I play in that. It's a part that I had never done before for sure and there are a couple scenes in that movie that I really enjoy watching.

B.L. You do tons of theater work in addition to all of your film work. What do you prefer, what gives you the bigger high at the end of the day?
P.S.H. It just depends on the day. Sometimes I have a great day of filming and sometimes the theater strikes me better. It just depends.

B.L. What are you working on now?
P.S.H. Cold Mountain, directed by Anthony Minghella with Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger and a slew of talented people. It's based on the novel of the same name written by Charles Fraser, set during the Civil War.