Philip Semour Hoffman was found dead inside his New York City apartment today. The apparent cause, according to police, is a drug overdose. Hoffman was 46 years old.
Hoffman first came on my radar in 1999, with his subtle, electrifying performance as Freddie Miles in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Then, as always, he was the unforgettable anti leading man, his slovenly looks and growly, stuttering voice an interesting alternative to the slick, fit, handsome male leads to whom he often played a supporting role. In interviews, Hoffman exhibited warmth, charm, and a self-deprecating sense of humor:
A lot of people describe me as chubby, which seems so easy, so first-choice. Or stocky. Fair-skinned. Tow-headed. There are so many other choices. How about dense? I mean, I’m a thick kind of guy. But I’m never described in attractive ways. I’m waiting for somebody to say I’m at least cute. But nobody has.
Prior to The Talented Mr. Ripley, Hoffman had appeared in Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, and Magnolia. Hoffman has identified his breakout film as 1992’s Scent of a Woman:
“Other people disagree with me, but Scent of a Woman really was my breakthrough. I was working in the prepared foods section of a deli when I was cast in that movie, and I’ve never had a non-acting job since. That’s amazing”.
When he says that other people disagree, he may be referring to Boogie Nights, which many reporters called his breakout role. The Wall Street Journal did just that in an article on the day of Hoffman’s death.
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s most memorable roles
Perhaps his most famous role was that of the colorful writer Truman Capote, in the 2005 film Capote, for which Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor, as well as the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Actor, the B.A.F.T.A. Award, the Golden Globe, and the S.A.G. Award. In 2012, he was brilliantly cast as a charismatic cult leader (presumably modeled after L. Ron Hubbard) in The Master. For two decades, he was a constant presence in film and onstage. How many times have you been watching a movie–independent or blockbuster–and seen that familiar face unexpectedly appear? Aside from The Talented Mr. Ripley, the roles that define Hoffman for me as a moviegoer were his turn as a rock critic in Almost Famous, a male nurse in Magnolia, and a CIA agent in Charlie Wilson’s war. Often, when Hoffman appeared onscreen, his larger than life movie star colleagues receded into the background. There was something so forceful about his voice, his mannerisms, and the complete way in which he inhabited a role, it was difficult to look away.
Personal life: Hoffman had three children with actress Mimi O’Donnell: Cooper Alexander Hoffman (born 2003), Tallulah Hoffman (born 2006), and Willa Hoffman (born 2008). He grew up in Rochester, NY, where his mother is a judge. His parents divorced when he was 9.
Hoffman, who has a history of drug abuse and addiction but had been clean for 23 years, checked into a substance abuse program in 2013 for heroin abuse. According to the LA Times, Hoffman was found in his West Village apartment on Bethune Street at 11:20 a.m. on Sunday, Feb., 2, with a hypodermic needle in his arm. Shocked friends and neighbors gathered outside the apartment on Sunday, according to the New York Times. A neighbor described him as “so sweet” and a “neighborhood fixture,” saying that she often saw him in the coffee shop with his children.
Circumstances of Hoffman’s death
According to CNN, Hoffman was last seen alive at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1. When he didn’t show up to pick up his children on Sunday, friends and family became concerned. “Playwright David Katz and another friend went to the apartment and found him dead, the official said.” (via CNN) He was found on the floor of the bathroom with a needle in his arm. Eight empty glassine bags, stamped with Ace of Spades and Ace of Hearts–street names for heroin–were found inside the apartment.
Projects in the works at the time of Hoffman’s death:
A Most Wanted Man, in which Hoffman portrays an anti-terrorism operative and World War 2 veteran, is set for release this year. He was also the executive producer of Happyish, due out this year on Showtime. Other projects include The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, which is in post-production, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, which is currently filming.
On his birthday, Thom Payne gets the gift of insignificance and also a new boss. He suspects his ED pills are interfering with his anti-depressants, leaving him with neither happiness nor… happiness. In a culture that reveres youth – a culture he helped create – Thom needs to figure out what his purpose is now that he’s halfway to death and nobody cares what he thinks. Because in a world where any Kardashian is trending up, perhaps the wise among us would heartily embrace trending down. (via Showtime)
Read more about Hoffman’s life and death in the New York Times.