Philip Seymour Hoffman is Dead: Brilliant Actor, “Capote” Star, Legendarily Uncool

46-year-old actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his West Village apartment this morning by a friend. The New York Times has reported that Hoffman was found in the bathroom with a hypodermic needle still in his arm, near an envelope “containing what is believed to be heroin.” The actor had struggled with addiction previously and had checked himself into rehab as recently as 2012, following his first relapse in 23 years. Hoffman has a son and two daughters with his partner since 1999, costume designer Mimi O’Donnell. He was widely considered one of the best actors of his generation.

I really liked Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He’s been in a lot of movies, period, but also has specifically appeared in a number of my favorite movies and worked with many of my favorite writers and directors. I liked how his voice seemed to carry a certain confidential gravity, like a gravely whisper. He seemed too indie for Hunger Games: Catching Fire but he turned out to be perfect, challenging Donald Sutherland’s booming sociopoathic President Snow with his sly, calculating Plutarch Heavensbee.

He played Rolling Stone writer Lester Bangs in the Forever Iconic Movie Almost Famous, and I can still hear my favorite lines from that film in my head like it’s on auto-play in my mind — “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”

Then there’s Magnolia, obviously, and who can forget The Big Lebowski (nobody, because one must watch Lebowski at least once a year, it’s like a law of nature).

He “played gay” a lot — a gay boom operator in Boogie Nights and  as Truman Capote in Capote —  and once told The Guardian, “I would read sometimes about people thinking I was gay and I would think, “Oh, that’s so great!” I take it as a compliment.””

He also played a transgender woman in gay writer-director Joel Schumacher’s 1998 film Flawless, but predictably that film isn’t winning high honors from the community, securing a place in Calpernia Adams’ Hall of ShameBut this portrayal of Log Cabin Republicans from Flawless is pretty cool!

His role in Boogie Nights didn’t exactly do the queer community any favors, either, but regardless he’s become, throughout his career, face you see and a voice you hear when you think about LGBT representation on film. He took risks, and always has. For his portrayal of gay writer Truman Capote, he received the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor and was nominated for a GLAAD award.

Hoffman’s roles consistently challenged what it means to be a Leading Man and popular conceptions of how masculinity is best performed and exemplified on film. Hoffman was celebrated, rather than sidelined, for his versatility and non-traditional appearance.

Hoffman was repeatedly the recipient of nominations and awards for acting and directing, earning major acclaim for roles in films including Doubt, The Master, Magnolia, Happiness, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Savages, Charlie Wilson’s War and The Ides of March. He was nominated for acting and directing Drama Desk Awards for plays like True West, Our Lady of 121st Street, Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Death of a Salesman, and a Tony for True West.

Last month, Showtime ordered 10 episodes of Happyish, a comedy pilot starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Kathryn Hahn and Rhys Ifan. Hoffman also appeared at Sundance to promote his new film God’s Pocket, directed by John Slattery. Last week, it was announced that Ezekiel Moss, a project Hoffman planned to direct, had signed on Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is in Post-Production, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is still filming, though what will become of his character now remains to be seen. Hunger Games Co-star Sam Claflin tweeted this morning, “I am genuinely shocked, saddened and speechless. A truly wonderful man, with a magical touch. My hero. Thoughts are with his family.” Ellen DeGeneres tweeted “Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a brilliant, talented man. The news this morning is shocking and sad. My heart goes out to his loved ones.”

“I think you should be serious about what you do because this is it,” Hoffman once said. “This is the only life you’ve got.”

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1760 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. Thumb up 14

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    “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool” is one of my life mottos, and also goddamn, all of us here on Autostraddle are some wealthy motherfuckers.

    RIP, PSH. Thank you for everything.

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    I’m so bummed – while I loved most of his other films, I’m particularly saddened because he was JUST how I wanted Plutarch to be. I can’t picture them doing that last Plutarch scene in Mockingjay without him – “We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.” SIGH.

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      Update 2: from Lionsgate via IndieWire:

      According to Lionsgate, Hoffman’s work was “substantially complete on ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I’ and he had seven days remaining to shoot on ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.’ This tragedy will not affect the films’ scheduled release dates of November 21, 2014 and November 20, 2015, respectively

      I found this on mockingjay.net. He was such a phenomenal actor, and his role as Lester Bangs was so influential in my formative years that I felt a little bad that This was the first thing that popped into my head when I heard the news. However, at least it won’t be adding to an already horrible tragedy.

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    This one truly hurt.

    I once referred to a quote of his when asked to describe the process of writing poetry was for me:
    “But that kind of deep love comes at a price: for me, acting is torturous, and it’s torturous because you know it’s a beautiful thing. I was young once, and I said, that’s beautiful and I want that. Wanting it is easy, but trying to be great — well that’s absolutely torturous.”

    The quote can be find in this NYT profile from 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/magazine/21hoffman-t.html

    My poetry writing never reached the level of his acting, but I got the sense that he was a man who was always pushing himself and his art, and had the deepest respect for that.

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      I love this quote. thanks so much for including it. I heard him speak at a q and a. I just remember his raw honesty.. I’m not usually affected by the passing of celebrities but his death really struck me hard. My girlfriend told me about it at a brunch and I immediately felt sad, and tears started rolling up in my eyes..

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    I just wanted to say that Almost Famous was the reason why I wanted to be a journalist. I was in middle school and my dream job was to work for Rolling Stone. That’s not my dream job anymore but that Lester Bangs quote has stuck with me ever since.

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    When I saw it on the news it felt like a blow to my guts. I hoped the news were wrong. It couldn’t possibly be him. It’s such a tragedy. The truthfulness of his art shall forever inspire us and others.
    Thank you so much for your incredible art, PSH.
    And I’m so sorry that the toll it took on you killed you.

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    I’ve never experienced a celebrity death that moved me until Philip Seymour Hoffman passed. He was (was! how sad) my favorite actor, and I always admired his versatility as an actor and the way he would immerse himself in his roles. He was a different person for me in every movie he was in. He became those characters. I don’t know what Philip was like as a person, but I am saddened by his passing.

    Also, if you haven’t ever watched Synecdoche, New York, you should. It’s Charlie Kaufman’s fantastic (and way overlooked) directorial debut and Hoffman is great in the lead role.

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