Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead in NYC apartment

By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl
      Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu | @thewillofash

2010 Sundance Film Festival - "Jack Goes Boating" Portraits

Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment Sunday.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the actor, 46, was found in the bathroom of his fourth floor apartment in the West Village around 11:15 a.m. by a screenwriter, who called 911. An official who spoke with WSJ said Hoffman was supposed to pick up his children Sunday and when he didn’t, David Katz, the screenwriter, and a friend went to check on him.

The actor died of an apparent drug overdose as officials said they found him with a syringe in his arm and two envelopes with what appeared to be heroin nearby. In 2006, Hoffman publicly admitted he nearly succumbed to substance abuse after graduating from NYU’s drama school, but got sober in rehab. According to the New York Post, last year, Hoffman checked himself into rehab after having relapsed in 2012.

Many actors took to Twitter to remember Hoffman. Patton Oswalt tweeted, “‘Sometimes I absolutely hate this job.’ — The Grim Reaper, when Philip Seymour Hoffman’s name showed up on his list.”

“I am genuinely shocked, saddened and speechless. A truly wonderful man, with a magical touch. My hero. Thoughts are with his family,” wrote Sam Claflin, Hoffman’s co-star in The Hunger Games trilogy.

He is survived by long-time girlfriend Mimi O’Donnell, a costume designer, and their three children together.

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

According to The New York Times, a crowd of more than 100 people gathered outside Bethune Street, where Hoffman was found. “The crowd was growing by the minute,” the article stated.

Amy Kaufman, a film reporter for The Los Angeles Times, has tweeted that Hoffman’s work on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 was substantially complete and for Part 2 he only had seven days remaining.

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A memorial by Will Ashton
Just like anyone and everyone who appreciates film and fine acting, I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing. Undoubtedly one of my favorite actors in the business today, his performances in already quality films elevated them in status, and even made some films that weren’t all that great (Along Came Polly) at least bearable.
To consider and list his 10 best performances is almost like picking your favorite children, but, I’ll do it anyway. Just know that this list is pretty much reversible, and that any one of them could have been anywhere else on this list.

Also, truth time, I have yet to see Almost Famous (I know…I know, I’ll try to watch it this week in memory) or Hard Eight, Love Liza, The Talented Mr. Ripley or Red Dragon. I guess, at the very least, it’ll give me something to keep looking forward to from this immensely talented actor.

Without further ado, my 10 favorite performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman:

Honorable Mentions: As Paul Zara in The Ides of March, as Robert Gelbert in A Late Quartet, as Gust Avrakotos in Charlie Wilson’s War, as Father Brendan Flynn in Doubt and as Caden Cotard in Synecdoche, New York.
10. Brandt in The Big Lebowski
This won’t be much of a list from me if The Big Lebowski wasn’t included. To be fair, while Hoffman’s character in this film is quite small, at least in comparison to what he would do in the years to come, it is still his expressions, his delivery and his presence in even the smallest roles that demonstrate how talented of a comedic actor he really was. While certainly not the performance to remember him by, he definitely helped make one of my favorite movies a little bit better.
9. As Jon Savage in The Savages
An overlooked film, to be sure, this darkly funny dramedy carries one of the actor’s more sympathetic and tender performances alongside an equally good Laura Linney. While, again, not the film to remember him by, it is definitely one to check out. In terms of range, this showcased the actor’s ability to be sweet opposed to some of the other types of characters featured on this list.
8. As Scott J. in Boogie Nights
C’mon, Paul Thomas Anderson films have to be on the list. The first of three that will be featured on this list is Boogie Nights. As Scott J., Hoffman, once again, carries Anderson grounded loopy nonchalant dialogue with such grace, and gives what could easily be the most sympathetic performances in the film in a later scene. Another showcase for his talents in both comedy and drama, while he didn’t have as much screen time in this feature, he certainly made the most of it as always.
CAPOTE7. As Truman Capote in Capote
Considering that this is the film that won the man his one and now only Oscar, there is good reason to include this terrific performance on this list. As the iconic literary figure, Hoffman brought a lot of subtle, nuanced grace to his performance as the title character. But moreover, he demonstrated his typical knack for dry comedy and dramatic chops, making sure that the performance went beyond just that: a performance. He made the character come to live, and feel real and genuine, and never just an impression.
6. As Owen Davian in Mission: Impossible III
There is a reason why this remains my favorite Mission: Impossible movie, and it is Hoffman’s performance as the main villain, Owen Davian. To me, the true heart of a great action movie can be found through impressive stunts or amazing set pieces, but nothing drives the story quite like a great villain can. And that is what Owen was: a great villain, thanks in large part to Hoffman’s performance. Especially in the film’s opening monologue, which Hoffman brings just the right amount of leer and snarl to to make for such a juicy villainous character. I’ve talked a great deal about Hoffman’s more sympathetic performances, but sometimes it’s the snarling, darker ones that are more fun to think about, and this is certainly one of them.
5. As Andy in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
There are a ton of great performances to be found in director Sidney Lumet’s final film, but undoubtedly one of the best comes from Hoffman. As the crooked, deranged Andy, Hoffman gets a lot more wiggle room to play with here, and he uses it spectacularly. He’s maniac, yet down-trot, and everything in-between, but Hoffman plays this fiddle with masterful grace that only a truly great performer could do. There aren’t that many people who have checked this movie out, and it is truly a shame. If you haven’t seen it yet, definitely check it out.
4. As Max Jerry Horovitz in Mary and Max
Speaking of films that not a lot of people have seen, but many, many more should is Mary and Max. While this is only a vocal performance from Hoffman, as Max, the obese, anxiety ridden, lonely New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome, Hoffman, once again, is the heart of the film, giving Max all the humor, sympathy and grace needed to make this oddball character shine. His emotional moral compass for the film helps drive this unique and wonderful film, and gives the final, bittersweet moments of this film all the watery-eye emotions it deserves.
3. As Allen in Happiness
In one of the best dark comedies of all time—read that, for me, then as one of the best comedies of all-time—Hoffman’s performance helps describe everything that is so weirdly, perversely wonderful about this film. Tender, poignant, heartfelt, yet underlying off-putting and unsettling, his performance fits into this film like a nice, warm glove, and elevates it into further greatness. There is a reason why this movie is so side-splittingly funny and moving, and Hoffman’s Allen is a big reason why.
2. As Lancaster Dodd in The Master
The second P.T. Anderson film on this list, Hoffman’s performance as the preacher and deceiver Lancster Dodd will now, it appears, be one of his final great performances. Competing with the stunningly great Joaquin Phoenix, Hoffman’s Dodd is able to bounce off Phoenix by giving his character the more appropriate nuanced grace and subtlety that makes his character a constantly fascinating mystery. Having re-watched the film just a couple months ago, I was still able to capture more from his performance that I didn’t before, and I’m sure I’ll keep catching things I didn’t already with each viewing. Once again, the sign of a great actor is being able to find something new with each re-viewing.
1. As Dean Trumbell in Punch-Drunk Love
And, now, for the third P.T. Anderson film on the list, Hoffman’s performance as Dean Trumbell may not be his biggest, or his brightest, or maybe even his best in conventional terms. But, whenever I look back on the actor, I will look back on his phone conversation with Adam Sandler, and the way he yells “Shut the fuck up” or any other golden nugget that he throws in that scene. It reminds me why this actor was such an immensely engaging, watching and fascinating actor, and it makes me love and miss him all the more.
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3 comments
  1. He was the best actor of his generation by far. So sad.

  2. Jimmy said:

    I agree with you Will, this actually ruined my day. Also the fact the you don’t have his performance in Doubt even mentioned anywhere is both sad and yet a great testament to how absolutely amazing he was as an actor.

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