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Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has gained recognition for his work in a series of successful films including Capote and Doubt.
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American actor and director Philip Seymour Hoffman has gained recognition for his work in a series of successful films including Scent of a Woman, Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski and Capote, for which he won an Academy Award. He is also a successful theater actor and director, winning three Tony Award nominations for True West, Long Day's Journey into Night and Death of a Salesman.
I try to live my life in such a way that I don't have profound regrets. That's probably why I work so much.
The second of four children, Hoffman grew up in Rochester, New York. His father worked for Xerox and his mother was a lawyer. His mother liked to take him to see local theatrical productions. Hoffman was especially moved by the play All My Sons, which he saw when he was twelve. "When I saw 'All My Sons,' I was changed—permanently changed—by that experience. It was like a miracle to me," he later told The New York Times.
At first Hoffman was more interesting in athletics than acting. But he turned to theater after he was sidelined by a wrestling injury in his teens. At 17, Hoffman was accepted into the New York State Summer School of the Arts. He continued to study acting at New York University.
In 1992, Hoffman had one of his first major film roles in Scent of a Woman opposite Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell. His career began to take off, and he landed a number of supporting or character parts in such films as Nobody's Fool (1994) with Paul Newman, Twister (1996) with Bill Paxton and Boogie Nights (1997) with Julianne Moore. Hoffman worked with a variety of directors from Ethan and Joel Coen on The Big Lebowski (1998) to Todd Solondz on Happiness (1998).
With his ability to be convincing nearly any part, Hoffman played a snide, upper-crust bully in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) starring Jude Law and Matt Damon and a male nurse to an ailing, eldery man (Jason Robards) in Magnolia (1999). The following year, Hoffman showed his versatility as a performer on the Broadway stage. He appeared in a revival of Sam Shepard's True West with John C. Reilly. The two actors switched playing parts every other night. Both he and Reilly received a Tony Award nomination for their work.
In 2005, Hoffman had a career breakthrough with the film Capote. He played famed writer Truman Capote during the time he was working on his nonfiction bestseller In Cold Blood about the 1959 killing of a Kansas family. Hoffman threw himself into the role, after some initial trepidation. ''I knew that it would be great, but I still took the role kicking and screaming,'' Hoffman told The New York Times. ''Playing Capote took a lot of concentration. I prepared for four and a half months. I read and listened to his voice and watched videos of him on TV." All of his hard work paid off. Hoffman earned widespread praise for the film, including taking home the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Since Capote, Hoffman has been on a roll—both on the silver screen and the stage. He received Academy Award nominations for his supporting roles in Charlie Wilson's War (2007) and Doubt (2008). In Doubt, Hoffman tackled the challenging role of a priest who may or may not have had an inappropriate relationship with a young male student at a Catholic school.
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