Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has died. He was 46. According to NYPD, Hoffman was discovered Sunday morning in his Manhattan home after suffering an apparent drug overdose. Police were called to the scene around 11:30 AM by Hoffman’s friend who found the actor non-responsive in the bathroom of the apartment this morning, according to NYPD, which said that a hypodermic needle and two glassine envelopes containing what appeared to be heroin were found in the fourth-floor apartment. Police would not confirm the name of the friend who found Hoffman. An autopsy will be performed and results could take some time for toxicology reports to become available.
The industry well knows Hoffman’s films credits, but his real role in life was as father of three young children with costume designer Mimi O’Donnell: Cooper, 11, Tallulah who is seven and Willa who is six years old. O’Donnell and he met in 1999 when Hoffman directed the play In Arabia We’d All Be Kings. His family just issued the following statement: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers.”
Hoffman, who audiences will most recently remember for his turn in The Hunger Games series as Plutarch Heavensbee and was a champion of the indie film and very prolific, had a great love for the theater and would return to it many times — both as an actor and a director — receiving critical raves that earned him Tony noms and a Drama Desk wins. O’Donnell is one of the artistic directors of the Labyrinth Theater Company in New York, which Hoffman joined in 1995.
Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor for 2005’s Capote and was thrice-nominated for Best Supporting Actor, including nods for Doubt, Charlie Wilson’s War, and for 2012’s The Master. Hoffman’s sudden death puts the fate of a number of his upcoming projects into question. Just last month he was in Park City for the Sundance premieres of God’s Pocket and A Most Wanted Man. Hoffman, who segued into directing with his 2010 debut Jack Goes Boating, had just signed on to direct his second feature Ezekiel Moss with Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams attached to star. In January, Showtime comedy pilot Happyish starring Hoffman was picked up to series with a 10-episode order. And Hoffman, who played the crucial character of Plutarch Heavensbee in Lionsgate/Summit’s 2013 blockbuster The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was set to reprise the role in the two-part franchise sequels The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 & 2. He had a week’s worth of work to go on the second Mockingjay but his work on the first had been all but completed. It is not expected to change the scheduled release dates of the films which will bow in Thanksgiving this year and next. The problem for the production, of course, will come in post for things such as looping.
Hoffman started his love of acting on the stage in theater in summer school in high school. He later attended NY University, Tisch School of the Arts. His struggle with addiction has spanned many years but last summer, in May of 2013, he bravely realized that his addictions were becoming problematic again and checked himself into rehab. He said that he had stopped drinking at the age of 22 but, in recent years, became addicted to heroin. Oddly, an Internet hoax about his death appeared only yesterday, prompting his reps to send out a statement denying it.
Hoffman continued to act both on stage and before the cameras throughout his career. Only two years ago, he starred in Arthur Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman in New York at the Ethel Barrymore Theater where he portrayed Willy Loman to critical raves. The actor truly poured himself into every character he created whether it be the lowly Willy or the charismatic leader of a religious movement in The Master. As a stage director, Hoffman won two Drama Desk awards for Jesus Hopped the A Train in 2001 and Our Lady of 121st Street two years later. His love of theater was a staple in his life and he would return to it many times. In fact, he was first recognized with a Drama Desk nom for his acting in 2000 for his role in the Off-Broadway, The Author’s Voice. He kept to the stage after that starring in the revival of Sam Shepard’s True West and Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Both garnered him him Tony noms. His third and final Tony nom came, of course, from playing the aging Willy Loman in the revival of the Pulitzer-prize winning play.
The role he always credited as launching his screen career was that of George Willis, Jr. in 1992’s Scent of a Woman. It was a supporting role, but memorable as Chris O’Donnell’s devious classmate who seemed to take glee in his viciousness. He has since been in almost all of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films from Hard Eight, Boogie Nights and Magnolia to The Master.
Hoffman was born in Fairport, NY to a mother who was a civil rights activist and lawyer and a father who was a corporate executive. They later divorced. He is also survived by sisters Jill and Emily and a brother Gordy, who is a screenwriter. Gordy drafted Love Liza for Hoffman in 2002. When he received his Oscar for Capote in 2002, the actor asked everyone to congratulate his mother, because, as he said, “she brought up four kids alone, and she deserves a congratulations for that.” Now the mother of his children – Mimi O’Donnell — faces the same struggle.
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