Philip Seymour Hoffman could do it all: He could make us laugh, he could make us cry, and he could do both of those things in a single scene—he was just that versatile. This incredible talent is what led to Hoffman being labeled as a character actor, but that classification doesn’t quite seem to do him justice. Yes, he had many standout performances in many eccentric supporting roles, but Hoffman was also a commanding presence who proved himself to be a tour de force in several leading performances. I’m not sure if any other actor has ever been able display emotion like Hoffman did. Thoughtful, and passionate, and really just a joy to watch, Hoffman was truly one of the greats. From subtle facial expressions to volatile explosions of dialogue, Hoffman was a master of emoting—he was a master of his craft in general. He made us laugh, he made us cry, but above all, he made us care.

For more on our favorite actors and what made them so special, don’t miss our recent videos about Robin WilliamsChristian Bale, Joaquin Phoenix, Lakeith Stanfield, and Tom Cruise—and for more on one of Hoffman’s ultimate performances, watch Influences on “The Master” to see what helped inspire him.