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RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman, Found Dead of a Likely Heroin Overdose at 46 (UPDATED)

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by Anne Thompson
February 2, 2014 1:55 PM
1 Comment
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Philip Seymour Hoffman
The Master

Sadly, Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead Sunday morning of an apparent drug overdose in his West Village New York apartment. The Oscar-winning actor (for the title role in 2005's "Capote") was 46. He recently attended the Sundance Film Festival with two films, Anton Corbijn's "A Most Wanted Man" and John Slattery's "God's Pocket." 

The New York Police Department is investigating the circumstances of Hoffman's death and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine its exact cause. 

A police official told the NY Times that Hoffman had been found in his apartment at 35 Bethune St. around 11:30 a.m. by a friend who had not been able to reach him. He had a hypodermic needle in his arm. UPDATE: Police found a reported 50 bags of heroin in his apartment.  

"A Most Wanted Man"

Born in Rochester, New York, Hoffman went into rehab after graduating from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, he told "60 Minutes" in 2006. “It was all that (drugs and alcohol), yeah. It was anything I could get my hands on…I liked it all." But he was clean and sober for 23 years before relapsing a year ago on heroin and quickly checked into rehab for ten days. He and his partner, costume designer Mimi O'Donnell, have a son, Cooper, 11, and two younger daughters, Tallulah and Willa.

Hoffman was one of Hollywood's great character actors, capable of extraordinary range, power and subtlety. He earned supporting actor Oscar nominations for Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," Mike Nichols' "Charlie Wilson's War," and the film of John Patrick Shanley's ''Doubt." He played a crusty baseball manager for "Capote" director Bennett Miller in "Moneyball," and gave memorable performances in countless other films: Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," Tamra Davis's "The Savages," George Clooney's "The Ides of March," Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous" and five Anderson movies, including "Hard Eight," "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia," "Punch-Drunk Love" and "The Master." Hoffman was also a lauded and formidable stage actor; I was lucky enough to see him hold his own against John C. Reilly in Sam Shepard's "True West" on Broadway.

Most recently, Anderson starred as Plutarch Heavensbee in 2013's number one blockbuster "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," and is coming up in the sequel "Mockingjay, Part 1," which is in post-production. "Part 2" is currently filming. According to Lionsgate, Hoffman's work was "substantially complete on 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I' and he had seven days remaining to shoot on 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.' This tragedy will not affect the films’ scheduled release dates of November 21, 2014 and November 20, 2015, respectively."

Hoffman was poised to star in Showtime series "Happyish" and was hoping to direct ghost story "Ezekiel Moss," which was to star Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The twittersphere swiftly exploded with reaction to Hoffman's untimely death. "The loss is real & personal when the talent is that uncommonly large," tweeted James L. Brooks (@canyonjim). "Each time he appeared in a scene your brain went to a higher ground."

Watch this Variety interview from Sundance and this collection of Hoffman clips. Joe Leydon weighs in on how Hoffman's life imitated his art: see the clip below from "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," and the funeral monologue from Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche New York."

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More: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Obit

1 Comment

  • john | February 4, 2014 3:39 PMReply

    Sad news about Mr. Hoffman's passing
    A very talented man who one can only
    wonder how many great performances
    he would have done had this not happened.

    I see no need to speak about the circumstances
    that lead to Mr. Hoffman's demise.
    This will not change the reality of his not
    being with us.

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