Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead this morning in his West Village apartment in NYC. Various media outlets are reporting the cause of death may have been a drug overdose, but no official confirmation on that yet. He was 46.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Hoffman was one of the greatest actors of his generation, stage or screen. He was not a STAR – he was publicly soft-spoken and not blessed with leading-man looks. But you’d be hard-pressed to find an actor over the past fifteen or twenty years who so consistently knocked it out of the park, from supporting roles and cameos in studio films to some of the most indelible characters in recent independent cinema. His IMDB page is an absolute murderer’s row of terrific performances, even if the films themselves weren’t on the same level.
He earned Oscar nominations for his supporting turns in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Doubt” and “The Master,” and won once for his transformative lead performance in 2005’s “Capote.” And even while those are wonderful roles and he deserved recognition for every one, I’m not even sure they crack my top 5 for him. “Almost Famous.” “Punch-Drunk Love.” “Magnolia.” “Boogie Nights.” “The Savages.” “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.” “Synecdoche, New York.” “Mary and Max.” “25th Hour.” “Moneyball.” “The Big Lebowski.” “The Ides of March.” Even in big-ticket fare like “Mission: Impossible III” or “Catching Fire,” he brought his A-game every single time. He was one of the few American actors that I would without reservation say had that “British quality:” a dedication and attitude towards acting as a craft, to be respected and taken seriously even in the most non-serious roles.
In recent years Hoffman openly admitted that he had struggled with drug addiction since being in graduate school at NYU in the late ’80s. He checked himself into rehab in 2012. It is tragic and unfortunate that even with his career and talent, his partner and family, and the wide-spread love and respect for him in the industry, there was still this immense pain in his life. I wish it had been otherwise. Our empathy and sorrow goes out to Mimi O’Donnell and the couple’s three children.
Hoffman’s likely last film performance will be seen later this year in Anton Corbijn’s adaptation of John le Carré’s “A Most Wanted Man.” The film, and Hoffman’s turn, earned widespread acclaim at Sundance last month.