One of the most admired performers of his generation, who was widely acclaimed for his work, he will be missed by his family, friends, fans and the Broadway community, of which he was an active participant. Mr. Hoffman died on Sunday at age 46.
In fact, the marquees of Broadway theaters in New York will be dimmed in his memory on Wednesday night, February 5, at exactly 7:45 p.m. for one minute.
According to police reports, Mr. Hoffman was found unconscious on Sunday, Feb. 2, on the bathroom floor of his West Village New York apartment by David Katz, his friend and screenwriter, who called 911. The actor was pronounced dead at the scene.
The cause of death has not yet been determined, but a law enforcement official said that heroin was found at the scene and a hypodermic needle was sticking out of Mr. Hoffman’s arm. Officials say that the New York Police Department is continuing to investigate.
Mr. Hoffman has previously been in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. In his early twenties, Hoffman said he started abusing drugs not long after graduating from his degree at New York University.
The actor previously admitted to struggling with drug addiction and had checked himself into rehab last year for heroin use. There was no note, and Hoffman’s death is believed to be accidental.
Mr. Hoffman was not married, and is survived by his long-term partner costume designer Mimi O’Donnell and their three young children – son Cooper Alexander, 10, and daughters Tallulah, 7, and Willa, 5.
His family released the following statement on the actor’s untimely death this afternoon: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone,” the statement said. “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.”
His performances in three Broadway plays led to three Tony Award nominations, most recently for portraying the symbolic traveling salesman Willy Loman in the 2012 revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. He was also nominated for best Leading Actor in Sam Shepard’s True West in 2000 and was nominated for Best Featured Actor in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night in 2003.
Mr. Hoffman appeared in more than 50 films, appearing in both big-budget Hollywood movies and critically praised independent films.
He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2005 for the biographical film Capote. He gained recognition for his supporting work in a series of notable films and received another three Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor in Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Doubt (2008) and The Master (2012).
Among his last movies were Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and God’s Pocket, about a detached, low-level thief in a small town, a guy named Mickey (Hoffman), who gets in over his head when he tries to cover-up the accidental death of his stepson. The movie, which also stars Christina Hendricks and John Turturro, was co-written and directed by Mad Men star John Slattery.
The following is one of Mr. Hoffman’s last interviews, a candid chat, for his movie God’s Pocket, which had its recent debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival.
How did you get involved with John Slattery in this project God’s Pocket?
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN: We lived in the same neighborhood, and we’d see each other around. I’d see John at shows, and stuff. And every time we saw each other, we’d stop and talk. But then this script came along, and I read it. And I couldn’t get it out of my head. I read that thing about five times. I found it extraordinarily moving.
PH: It’s just tragic. This is somebody who’s trying so desperately to make something work, while everyone else knows it’s never going to work. And he’s the one guy who doesn’t know it. That killed me. That’s what I couldn’t shake.
Is it easier to work with a director who is an actor?
PH: I think as an actor, you’ve got to kind of eventually say, ‘I’ve got to be me.’ That’s always the sign to me of a director that I’m going to trust. It’s when that moment comes. You survive the moment of like, this is hard. I’m vulnerable. You do that, 95 percent of the time. I rarely finish a film and don’t have an innate love for the director that’s been built up. You survive these things together that are very intimate, and crazy, in front of people. You don’t realize what you’ve exposed in a way. And you survive it. It creates a certain kind of respect and admiration. That happened with John, for sure.
What about the sex scenes, what thinking went into that?
PH: I didn’t even think about it. That was a little bit, yeah, voyeuristic!
Are you going to be practicing your falls?
PH: No! I just know it’s not easy. In all seriousness, when I watched that I was like, ‘wow. That was really good.’
You have a fall you do while running after your meat truck.
PH: Yeah, but I did some serious planting for that fall. And it was so hot. But I remember during the fall, I had butt pads!
PH: Uh, I don’t know. I um, well I first had a great passion for theater. As a patron. I always, I remember when I was about 12 or 13; I was a patron of theater. And I loved it. I had a huge passion for it, I just did. Why that is, I don’t know. But I did. And so that’s really what it still is. How I got on the other side of it, is really, I’m still trying to find out…whether that was a mistake or not! You know? And I mean that half jokingly, and half, in a way. I mean, because passion was truly seeing. And watching.
Please tell me more about your love for acting.
PH: It was, going to the theater I think, is one of the rare gifts that we have. And that a culture can offer a person. And you know; that I learned that at such a young age, has a lot to do probably with why I became involved with trying to create it myself. Whether it be live theater, or film. And why I’ve directed and acted. And why hasn’t it just been acting, you know what I mean? Obviously, I have an interest in the whole thing. I’ve produced things, and I’ve directed. And that it’s out there. And I’ve been interested in being involved in things that hopefully will affect, or will be a reason for someone to go, like I have reason, to go.
How do you identify as an actor?
PH: Actors are not going to do just one thing, like a writer. They’re actually trying to find a way to find a voice. But you do that with many different voices. Do you know what I mean? So each job is like saying, ‘I’m not that anymore.’ I have to be someone else. And now I have to figure out how to play this one. You know, nobody cares about the other one I just figured out how to play! So it’s a different thing, I think. But off the top of my head, I think it’s about finding your voice. And you look forward to hearing it.
Do you think you’d be more the hard reality type of person, or the hopeful optimist?
PH: I think a little bit of both; a little bit of both.
How are you with leaving characters behind you?
PH: I’m able to leave them behind immediately. Sometimes it is hard to get the motor running again. But once I’m done with something, I’m done. It’s as if it didn’t happen in my mind, in a way. But to get the motor started again is actually tough when you’re working a lot. Kind of your body and mind is like, don’t work. Take a break. But you have to get it, we all know that. It’s just life.
When you’re not working, what are you up to?
PS: God, my spare time really is about hanging out with my kids right now. If I have spare time, a good chunk of that spare time is going to be thinking about how to hang out with them. And how to try to do nothing.
Are you going to encourage your kids to go into acting?
PH: My girlfriend is a costume designer in the theater. They’re around it. My daughter is five so she’s just, you know, she’s the master of her own universe, really. She is her own theater. But my son comes with us to the theater. They’re all going to be introduced to it just by the life that they’re in. I don’t think any of them are going to need any kind of classes, or us literally teaching them. They’re going to see it right in front of their eyes. They already have. They already see it.
Are you surprised that you’ve become famous?
PH: That movie star part! It’s so funny. I just can’t keep up with the movie star part. It seems like there’s not enough time. It is hard to juggle, and hard to find time. But I don’t think that’s unique to me. You’ve accumulated what you’ve been striving for. And you get to certain point and you have a life. I do think that is common. Being famous makes no difference. Everyone has that experience. Life happens. And there you are. You do start to audition for films, and you do get that job. And then you think, ‘okay. I’ll make a movie once in a while and do my theater thing.’
Then what happens?
PH: All of a sudden you’re 29, 39, or older, and somebody stares at you in a restaurant. And you think they don’t like you, or they want to fight you. Or you know them, and you forgot their name. Then you realize they saw your movie and they know you. And that’s shocking. It’s like losing your left arm. You don’t understand that. You walk along life anonymous, and then suddenly you’re not anonymous. It just happens because you’re following the work. But you don’t think you’re going to be a famous person. You think you might make a movie, you might do some plays. But you don’t ever think you’ll be famous. It’s funny.
Have awards affected you at all?
PH: No, it doesn’t affect my outlook on movies that I take. Is it fun? At times. It’s a very stressful thing. I think that probably is a very stressful, but I’m obviously grateful. There’s no doubt about that. It’s not a bad thing.
Do you like switching between Hollywood and independent movies?
PH: They’re all a machine; it’s all a big machine. Isn’t that depressing? I’m exaggerating the point. But I also mean that in a way meaning that whether you’re working in an independent film world or the big budget film world, all the same problems arise. All the same stuff happens. One you don’t have as much money, as much time and just not as many frills. Or whatever extras. And craft service might not be as good. But ultimately, you’re under the gun like anything. There’s something that needs to be made, needs to be made in a certain amount of time. And somebody spent a lot of money.
What do you count as turning points in your career, or a lucky break that took your life in a different direction and changed your life?
PH: I’ve had lot of breaks. A lot people have given me breaks. Scent of a Woman, I was 24. I auditioned for it six times. And I remember Joel Schumacher hired me to play opposite Robert De Niro in Flawless when I was not even 30. Those were all huge breaks. The opportunities that came along, thank god I said yes to them. What makes all the difference is that I said yes at that time.
Is there a role you feel you haven’t gotten to play?
Thank you very much, it has been a pleasure.
PH: Thank you.
The post Philip Seymour Hoffman has tragically died at age 46; his legacy of acting excellence endures also appeared on PCM Reviews.