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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman: a twisted end

Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times   February 03, 2014
First Published: 12:23 IST(3/2/2014) | Last Updated: 12:56 IST(3/2/2014)

American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead on Sunday at his New York flat, was barely 46. Apparently, he died of drug overdose, a cause which seems to be common among celebrities – though for some it is a method adopted to kill themselves. For others, it could be accidental. Nobody knows yet whether Hoffman’s was a case of suicide. All that we know is that he had a syringe in his hand.

The actor had in a 2006 interview spoken about his struggle with drugs. He said that he took just about anything he could find. “I liked it all”.

Seymour’s demise reminds us of actor Heath Ledger—who died in Manhattan from a lethal combo of drugs in 2008. There were others too.

Read: Philip Seymour Hoffman's top 5 films

Hoffman shot to prominence in the 1990s with films such as The Talented Mr Ripley, Magnolia and Boogie Nights. But his most glorious work was Capote – which also won him an Oscar in 2005. Additionally, he received three Academy nods for The Master in 2013, Doubt in 2009 and Charlie Wilson’s War in 2008.

Capote turned out to be a riveting piece of celluloid, laid bare in several layers. We see here the obsessive search for truth by writer Truman Capote (Hoffman) to get to the bottom of the sadistic 1959 murder of a Kansas family. Hoffman enacts Capote with mesmeric zeal, and is seen dominating just about every scene.


Hoffman is a spiritual healer in The Master, who believes in curing the physically and psychologically ill by helping them to rid themselves of their past selves.

Born in 1967 near Rochester, Hoffman came into critical view in the 1997 Boogie Nights – where he portrays a lovelorn homosexual. It was actually a movie within a movie, a work about the pornography industry. When this acclaim came, Hoffman had already a dozen roles behind him.

Read: Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead in NYC home

Interestingly, he played twisted characters, but whose range was phenomenal. In Happiness, he is a guy who makes obscene telephone calls. In Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, he is the son who robs from his parents’ jewellery store, and in this botched-up heist, his parents die.


There were exceptions though to his characterisation: he is a kind nurse in Magnolia.

Hoffman’s other remarkable works include Moneyball, The Savages, Cold Mountain, The Hunger Games and Scent of Woman. The last film was better known, though, for Al Pacino – who is brilliant as a blind man, a part that fetched him an Oscar.

Hoffman also appeared on stage earning Tony Award nominations for Death of a Salesman, Long Day’s Journey into Night and True West.

Hoffman – who was scheduled to direct the Prohibition-era drama Ezekiel Moss, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, leaves behind three young children and longtime partner Mimi O’Donnell.

Photos: Hoffman's best performances

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