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Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Director (1967–2014)
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Philip Seymour Hoffman was an American actor and director known for films such as Capote and Doubt.


Born in 1967 in Rochester, New York, actor and director Philip Seymour Hoffman was known for films such as Scent of a Woman, Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski and Capote, for which he won an Academy Award. He was also successful in theater, winning three Tony Award nominations for True West, Long Day's Journey into Night and Death of a Salesman. Hoffman died of acute mixed drug intoxication in New York City on February 2, 2014, at age 46.

Early Life

Philip Seymour Hoffman was born on July 23, 1967, in Rochester, New York, the second of four children. 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 12. "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 interested in athletics than acting. But he turned to theater after he was sidelined by a wrestling injury in his teens. At the age of 17, Hoffman was accepted into the New York State Summer School of the Arts. He continued to study acting at New York University.

Acting Career

In 1992, Hoffman landed one of his first major film roles in Scent of a Woman, starring 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 in 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, he showed his versatility as a performer on the Broadway stage, appearing in a revival of Sam Shepard's True West with John C. Reilly. The two actors switched parts every other night, and both received a Tony Award nomination for their work.

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In 2005, Hoffman had a career breakthrough with the film Capote, in which he played famed writer Truman Capote. The film takes place in the early 1960s, when Capote was working on his non-fiction best-seller In Cold Blood, about the 1959 killing of a Kansas family. Hoffman threw himself into the role, but only 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 his performance in the film, and took home the coveted Academy Award for best actor.

Following Capote, Hoffman received Academy Award nominations for supporting roles in Charlie Wilson's War (2007) and Doubt (2008). In Doubt, Hoffman starred opposite Meryl Streep as a priest who may or may not have had an inappropriate relationship with a young male student at a Catholic school.

In 2012, Hoffman again proved himself as a lead actor. He starred in a revival of Death of a Salesman as Willy Loman, the patriarch in the dysfunctional family drama. Hoffman earned raves for his work, including a Tony Award nomination. That same year, he starred in The Master, playing a leader of a quasi-religious organization.

Hoffman later landed a part in the second installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire (2013), as games designer Plutarch Heavensbee, co-starring with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.


In his personal life, Philip Seymour Hoffman struggled with drug and alchohol addiction. In 2013, he checked into a drug rehabilitation program for 10 days. Hoffman was found dead on February 2, 2014, at an apartment that he was renting as an office in New York City's Greenwich Village. The 46-year-old actor was found dead by a worried friend, according to police.

Weeks after his death, it was revealed that Hoffman died of an acute mixed drug intoxication, which included heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and amphetamine, in what was considered an accident according to the New York medical examiner's office. He was survived by longtime partner, costume designer Mimi O'Donnell, with whom he had three children—son Cooper and daughters Tallulah and Willa.

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