- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2014

More details are surfacing about the apparent drug overdose of Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead inside his New York City apartment on Sunday, police said.

Mr. Hoffman, a 46-year-old New York native, won an Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of American author Truman Capote in “Capote.” He starred in many other notable films, including “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Master,” and the “Hunger Games” franchise.

Investigators found more than 50 glassine-type bags containing what is believed to be heroin in his apartment, along with several bottles of prescription drugs and more than 20 used syringes in a plastic cup, sources told CNN.

Mr. Hoffman reportedly had suffered from drug addiction for years. After 23 years sober, he admitted in interviews that he relapsed and developed an addiction to heroin. He checked into a rehabilitation facility last year.

Law enforcement officials said the actor’s body was discovered in the bathroom of his Greenwich Village apartment by an assistant and a friend, who called 911. Mr. Hoffman’s family called his death “tragic and sudden.”

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone,” his family said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “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.”

Mr. Hoffman was not blessed with matinee-idol looks but his meticulous craft made him one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, able to straddle both the multiplex and the film festival audiences. He won raves for both franchise tentpoles such as the third “Mission: Impossible” film and a career-long collaboration with director Paul Thomas Anderson in such films as “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights.”

“Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t just a great actor in great roles. He was a great actor in crap roles. He took dead material and gave it life. Probably the best example is his turn as the baddie in [Mission: Impossible III]. As written, it’s an utterly empty, generic villain character. But Hoffman took that emptiness and made it the character’s defining element — a pure villain even scarier because of the void inside,” said Peter Suderman, who reviews films for The Washington Times.

He played leads in independent and boutique films such as the priest, Father Brendan Flynn, in “Doubt” and Jon Savage in “The Savages.” He was an in-demand character actor for such films as “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and as famed rock critic Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous.”

Besides the “Capote” win, three of his performances were nominated for Oscars — “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Master” and “Doubt.” He also was nominated for three Tonys for his Broadway performances — as Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman,” as Jamie in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and the dual-lead role in “True West.”

Celebrities immediately began taking to Twitter to express their condolences as the news broke Sunday afternoon.

“Dear Philip, a beautiful beautiful soul. For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much. Bless your heart,” tweeted Jim Carrey. Steve Martin added that he was “shocked to hear of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. If you missed him as Willy Loman, you missed a Willy Loman for all time.”

That 2012 performance in “Death of a Salesman” was praised as “heartbreaking” by Associated Press theater 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,” Mr. Kennedy wrote.

Mr. Hoffman had two films premiere at last month’s Sundance Film Festival — the John LeCarre spy adaptation “A Most Wanted Man” and the contemporary urban film noir, “God’s Pocket.”

He also had completed the pilot for a Showtime comedy series called “Happyish” and was in the midst of filming the two-part movie based on the third “Hunger Games” novel. Producers said Sunday that production was sufficiently well along that the role of Plutarch Heavensbee would not need to be recast.

Mr. Hoffman is survived by his partner of 15 years, Mimi O’Donnell, and their three children.

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