The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Entertainment

February 2, 2014

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead in NYC apartment

NEW YORK  — Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won the Oscar for best actor in 2006 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote and created a gallery of other vivid characters, many of them slovenly and somewhat dissipated, was found dead Sunday in his apartment with what officials said was a needle in his arm. He was 46.

Two law enforcement officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the evidence, said the actor apparently died of a drug overdose. Glassine envelopes containing what were believed to be heroin were found with him, they said.

Hoffman — no matinee idol, with his lumpy build and limp blond hair — made his career mostly as a character actor, and was one of the most prolific in the business, plying his craft with a rumpled naturalism that also made him one of the most admired performers of his generation.

The stage-trained actor was nominated for Academy Awards four times in all: for "Capote," ''The Master," ''Doubt" and "Charlie Wilson's War." He also received three Tony nominations for his work on Broadway, which included an acclaimed turn as the weary and defeated Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman."

Hoffman spoke candidly over the years about past struggles with drug addiction. After 23 years sober, he admitted in interviews last year to falling off the wagon and developing a heroin problem that led to a stint in rehab.

Tributes poured in from other Hollywood figures.

"One of the greatest actors of a generation and a sweet, funny & humble man," actor Ricky Gervais tweeted. Director Spike Lee said on Twitter: "Damn, We Lost Another Great Artist."

And Kevin Costner said in an AP interview: "Philip was a very important actor and really takes his place among the real great actors. It's a shame. Who knows what he would have been able to do? But we're left with the legacy of the work he's done and it all speaks for itself."

"No words for this. He was too great and we're too shattered," said Mike Nichols, who directed Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War" and in "Death of a Salesman."

The law enforcement officials said Hoffman's body was discovered in a bathroom at his Greenwich Village apartment by a friend who made the 911 call and his assistant.

Late Sunday, a police crime-scene van was parked out front, and technicians carrying brown paper bags went in and out. Police kept a growing crowd of onlookers back. A single red daisy had been placed in front of the lobby door.

Hoffman's family called the news "tragic and sudden." Hoffman is survived by his partner of 15 years, Mimi O'Donnell, and their three children.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone," the family said in a statement.

In one of his earliest screen roles, he played a spoiled prep school student in "Scent of a Woman" in 1992. One of his breakthroughs came as a gay member of a porno film crew in "Boogie Nights," one of several movies directed by Paul Thomas Anderson that he would eventually appear in.

He often played comic, slightly off-kilter characters in movies like "Along Came Polly," ''The Big Lebowski" and "Almost Famous."

More recently, he was Plutarch Heavensbee in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and was reprising that role in the two-part sequel, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay," which is in the works. And in "Moneyball," he played Art Howe, the grumpy manager of the Oakland Athletics who resisted new thinking about baseball talent.

Just weeks ago, Showtime announced Hoffman would star in "Happyish," a new comedy series about a middle-aged man's pursuit of happiness.

He was nominated for the 2013 Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in "The Master" as the charismatic leader of a religious movement. The film, inspired in part by the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, reunited the actor with Anderson.

He also received a 2009 best-supporting nomination for "Doubt," as a priest who comes under suspicion because of his relationship with a boy, and another best-supporting nomination as a CIA officer in "Charlie Wilson's War."

Born in 1967 in Fairport, N.Y., Hoffman was interested in acting from an early age, mesmerized at 12 by a local production of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons." He studied theater as a teenager with the New York State Summer School of the Arts and the Circle in the Square Theatre. He then majored in drama at New York University.

In his Oscar acceptance speech for "Capote," he thanked his mother for raising him and his three siblings alone, and for taking him to his first play. Hoffman's parents divorced when he was 9.

He could seemingly take on any role, large or small, loathsome or sympathetic, and appeared to be utterly lacking in vanity.

On Broadway, in addition to starring as Willy Loman, he played Jamie in "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and both leads in "True West." All three performances were Tony-nominated.

His 2012 performance in "Death of a Salesman" was praised as "heartbreaking" by AP theater critic Mark Kennedy.

"Hoffman is only 44, but he nevertheless sags in his brokenness like a man closer to retirement age, lugging about his sample cases filled with his self-denial and disillusionment," Kennedy wrote. "His fraying connection to reality is pronounced in this production, with Hoffman quick to anger and a hard edge emerging from his babbling."

Two films starring Hoffman premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival: the espionage thriller "A Most Wanted Man" and "God's Pocket."

 

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