By now every news outlet has covered the breaking story that Oscar-winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead, but who was Hoffman as a man, how did he sustain a career in Hollywood, and what is the truth about his death? With several news reports saying that the actor’s death is the result of a drug overdose, it is important to remember him for more than an addiction.
Who was Philip Seymour Hoffman?
Born July 23, 1967 in Fairport, New York, a suburb of Rochester, Philip Seymour Hoffman was the son of lawyer and family court judge, Marilyn O’Connor and former executive at Xerox, Gordon Stowell Hoffman. The couple had four children, Philip, Gordy, Jill, and Emily, but got divorced in 1976 when Philip was nearing 10 years old. Years later, Philip Seymour Hoffman went to the New York State Summer School of the Arts in 1984 and was then involved in his high school theater program. After high school graduation, he continued to perform via the Circle in the Square Theatre.
Important in telling the story of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the man, the career, and the death is his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Drama from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Also, Philip was one of the founders of the Bullstoi Ensemble, along with Bennett Miller, a director, and Steven Schub, another actor. Shortly after completing the company’s creation and graduating from NYU, Philip was heavily into drugs. Heroin and alcohol addiction created a great need for his participation in a rehab program. After completing formal drug and alcohol treatment, Philip was sober for 23 years and had three children with his long-term partner, Mimi O’Donnell.
The Roles He Played
The official acting career of Philip Seymour Hoffman began in 1991 with a part on the TV show, Law & Order and a role in his first feature film, Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole. The following year Philip played the character Chris, in My New Gun, his first role in a major release. What the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) credits as his breakthrough role came in the 1997 film, Boogie Nights, by Paul Thomas Anderson, co-starring Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Mark Wahlberg, Don Cheadle, and Heather Graham. With work on other major films like The Talented Mr. Ripley, Magnolia, Almost Famous, Punch-Drunk Love, and Along Came Polly, Philip Seymour Hoffman become a household name.
Philip’s major career moment came in the 1995 film, Capote, in which he played the lead character, Truman Capote and won the Academy Award for Best Actor that year. From there he was cast in Mission Impossible III, The Invention of Lying, The Ides of March, Moneyball, A Late Quartet, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and the two subsequent Hunger Games films. Based on the reactions of his costars and other celebrities, Philip was more than just an actor. Spike Lee, who directed Philip Seymour Hoffman in the film, 25th Hour, shared his feelings through a photo and a caption on Instagram that read, “Damn, we lost another great artist. God bless you and your family. Rest in peace.” (Picture below.)
A Life Cut Short
While Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death is rumored to be a drug overdose, the man he was and the career he sustained in a tough industry for two decades are his legacy. He joins the likes of countless other celebrities who could not overcome an addiction to drugs and alcohol, but who can hopefully serve as reasons not to abuse drugs and alcohol for the next generation.
By K. Corrine Van Vliet
NY Daily News