Philip Seymour Hoffman dead

TOM HAYS AND JAKE COYLE
Last updated 11:44 03/02/2014

Actor Kevin Bacon says "I am just heartbroken" after hearing about death of award winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Philip Seymour Hoffman
DEAD WITH 46: Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead

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Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead

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Philip Seymour Hoffman, an Oscar-winning actor and father of three young children, has been found dead in his apartment with a needle in his arm. He was 46.

The two officials told The Associated Press that glassine envelopes containing what was believed to be heroin were also found with the actor.

The law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk about the evidence, said the cause of death was believed to be a drug overdose.

Hoffman - with his doughy, everyman physique, his often-disheveled look and his limp, receding blond hair - was a character actor of such range and lack of vanity that he could seemingly handle roles of any size, on the stage and in movies that played in art houses or multiplexes.

He could play comic or dramatic, loathsome or sympathetic, trembling or diabolical, dissipated or tightly controlled, slovenly or fastidious.

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 a 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."

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 on Sunday (local time), 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.

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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, partly inspired 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 a best supporting actor nomination for Charlie Wilson's War, as a CIA officer.

Born in 1967 in Fairport, New York, Hoffman was interested in acting from an early age, mesmerised at 12 by a local production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons. He studied theatre 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 and his three siblings alone and for taking him to his first play. Hoffman's parents divorced when he was nine.

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 theatre 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. 

- AP

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