News of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was first announced — erroneously — just a few days before he was found dead in his apartment.
The victim of a death hoax, grim news of his own mortality was confirmed by police in New York last night, caused by an apparent drug overdose.
The 46-year-old was found dead in his bathroom in the city’s Greenwich Village area at 11.30am local time yesterday. The New York Times, citing a law enforcement official, said investigators found a syringe in Hoffman’s arm and an envelope containing what was believed to be heroin.
Hoffman won the Academy Award for best actor for the 2005 biographical film Capote, and received three Academy Award nominations as best supporting actor.
Last year, the actor told celebrity news website TMZ that he had sought treatment for drug abuse. He said he had used prescription drugs, and, briefly, heroin, before seeking help.
Hoffman had reportedly been clean for 23 years before last year’s relapse. “I went to rehab, I got sober when I was 22 years old,” he said in a 2006 interview.
“You get panicked... and I got panicked for my life.”
Police were called to the New York apartment by a friend of the actor, a spokesman said.
Hoffman’s family said in a statement: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone.
“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.”
Speaking at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards, John Hurt — who starred with Hoffman in the 2003 film Owning Mahowny — said: “It’s a devastating loss. His contribution was massive.”
A spokesman for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts said it was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the news.
Actor Steve Coogan, also speaking at the awards, said: “There are actors and there are movie stars and sometimes they’re both but he was an actor first and a movie star second, although he was a movie star. “He did some tremendous work. Everything he was in he raised the quality of his film just by his presence.
“People have different opinions about actors but you wouldn’t find anybody who would have a bad word to say about any of his performances, they were all incredibly nuanced.”
Skyfall actress Naomie Harris, who was also speaking at last night’s awards said: “That’s a huge loss for everyone. He was an extraordinary and intelligent man, so it’s incredibly sad.”
Comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted: “Such shocking & sad news. RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman. One of the greatest actors of a generation and a sweet, funny & humble man.”
Actress Mia Farrow wrote: “OH NO!!!!! Philip Seymour Hoffman has died. A truly kind, wonderful man and one of our greatest actors — ever.”
She added: “Rest in peace Philip Seymour Hoffman. We who marvelled at each of your performances, are grateful and very, very sad.” Hoffman had been working on the last instalment of the dystopian adventure franchise The Hunger Games, in which he played the role of head game- maker Plutarch Heavensbee.
Born in Fairport, New York, in 1967, he became interested in acting from an early age, mesmerised at the age of 12 by a local production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons.
He would go on to take on to star in a Miller play himself, taking on the role of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in 2012. He got his first TV acting role in a 1991 episode of long-running police show Law and Order. Hoffman went on to play memorable characters in films such as The Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia and also had a distinguished career in the theatre.
The actor leaves behind his partner, costume designer Mimi O’Donnell and their two daughters and son.
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