HAMILTON – It sounds like something from a made for TV movie but this story is completely true! Martin Paulson, a 48 year old who has been in a coma for the past 12 years suddenly awoke in hospital and doctors quickly made sure he knew that famed character actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was dead.
“I was really hungry when I woke up and confused. All I wanted was to hug my wife and son and to drink some water,” said Paulson a few days after leaving the hospital, “but the doctors just kept yelling at me ‘Phillip Seymour Hoffman is dead! Don’t you understand?! He’s dead!’ for hours.”
“I mean, I kind of remembered (Hoffman) from that movie about the tornados,” explained Paulson, “but I mostly just kept asking about my family.”
It all began in 2007 when Paulson, a welder for a construction subcontractor, fell 40 feet off a condo tower being built in Hamilton, Ontario, hit his head, and was entirely unresponsive. Doctors quickly noted that, at the time of the accident, Philip Seymour Hoffman was fresh off his Oscar win as the leading role in Capote, and Paulson would be entirely unable to chart the subsequent meteoric rise of his career.
“I mean, the guy had just made a total blockbuster turn as the villain, Owen Davian, in Mission Impossible III, and here’s this poor schmo who would never see the kind of stuff Hoffman would be capable of in the future,” said Dr. Emily Tellridge, Paulson’s attending physician.
Doctors worked tirelessly to try to restore Paulson to consciousness in time to catch Hoffman in 2008’s symbolic Synechdoche, New York, but were unsuccessful. Paulson spent the next few years wasting away in a hospital bed, completely missing things like Doubt, Moneyball, and his son’s 4th through 16th birthdays.
“I thought the fact that he’d never see any of the Hunger Games movies was just so sad, so sad,” reported nurse Doug Yauch, “I tried playing them on the TV in his room but who knows if they can hear anything in that state.”
Then tragedy struck when, in 2014, Hoffman died of a drug overdose, which made waking Paulson up seem kind of pointless, really. But when he did awake staff made sure to show him all the tweets commemorating PSH, prompting Paulson to repeatedly ask ‘What is Twitter?’
In addition to repeatedly correcting Paulson when he confuses Hoffman for actor Paul Giamatti, long-term rehabilitation plans are in place for the patient to be caught up on the man’s entire filmography, as well as physical therapy to rebuild muscle and motor function. “He’s going to need his strength for when he finally gets to 2012’s The Master,” explained Dr. Tellridge.
So while it would have been wonderful for Paulson to have experienced Hoffman’s career and tragic death first-hand, it’s nice to know that miracles can sometimes still occur.