Philip Seymour Hoffman–who, at the age of 46, was one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation–was found dead Sunday afternoon in his New York City apartment. That’s not too big of a surprise. The guy had spent a recent stint in rehab for heroin addiction. There’s no confirmed cause of death while we’re writing this, but it seems worth mentioning. [UPDATE: Yeah, it looks like an overdose--and we wouldn't be surprised if it was connected to this bad stock out of Pennsylvania.]
That heroin problem was actually a big surprise, since Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t the kind of actor you’d see in the tabloids. He was a serious type who was also a big deal in the New York City theater world. And while Hoffman had a reputation as an indie darling, he also made some great guy movies.
Like plenty of rising actors in the ’90s, Philip Seymour Hoffman made his debut (as Phillip Hoffman) in the Law & Order television series. That was back in 1991. It was only a year later when Hoffman managed to steal some scenes amongst Al Pacino’s overblown performance in Scent of a Woman. He worked steadily after that, with 1996 really becoming a big year for him. He took a small role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s tough-guy drama Hard Eight, but that would pay off when Hoffman joined Anderson in the next year’s Boogie Nights.
Meanwhile, Hoffman was also part of the young-actor contingent brought in as tornado hunters for the 1996 action movie Twister. That’s when people realized that Philip Seymour Hoffman could play any kind of role. He always had a slurred and lazy delivery to his characters, but Hoffman could use that to play a hipster slacker, yuppie creep, or addled young gay stoner. Hoffman became a big deal as a Christopher Walken-type who could bring his own method to create a wide array of characters.
He was especially good as a jaded bro type–really making an impression with Matt Damon and Jude Law in 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. Hoffman also scored as legendary rock critic Lester Bangs in 2000’s Almost Famous, and really raided the multiplexes as the villainous Owen Davian of Mission: Impossible III. That was the year after he won the Best Actor Oscar for playing Truman Capote in 2005’s Capote.
Hoffman was about to get an entire new generation of fans with his work in the Hunger Games movies, too. So that’s a real shame, along with Hoffman leaving behind three children. There are plenty more amazing performances to be discovered, too. We didn’t even mention 2007’s Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, which opens with Hoffman in a pretty explicit sex scene with Marisa Tomei. That had to be a great moment–but it’s probably best to remember Philip Seymour Hoffman for this…