Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2006 with his Oscar for Best Actor for his role in 'Capote.' (Michael Goulding / MCT)
He was an actor’s actor, and his impact on that profession was obvious from the many who grieved over reports of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman on Sunday.
“Philip Seymour Hoffman was a brilliant, talented man. The news this morning is shocking and sad. My heart goes out to his loved ones,” wrote talk show host Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter.
“Oh what terrible news. What a talent. What a shame. #RIP,” wrote “The Following” star Kevin Bacon.
“Up in the Air” and “Pitch Perfect” star Anna Kendrick wrote “Philip Seymour Hoffman. Unbearably, shockingly, deeply sad. Words fail to describe his life and our loss.”
Hoffman, who won a best actor Oscar award for the 2005 film “Capote,” was found dead in his New York City apartment Sunday by a friend, the victim of an apparent drug overdose. He was 46.
“Beautiful beautiful man. We have lost so much joy to something so joyless. RIP PSH,” wrote writer-director-actress Lena Dunham.
The actor previously underwent drug treatment, and spoke recently about falling off the wagon after 23 years of sobriety.
He certainly hadn’t slowed down the pace of his work. Last month, Showtime announced Hoffman recently signed on to star in “Happyish,” a series about a man confronting a mid-life crisis, and he had a crucial supporting role in “The Hunger Games” movie franchise, which he reportedly was nearly finished filming.
The actor, who earned his fourth Oscar nomination for “The Master” in 2013, also left behind at least two completed films — “God’s Pocket,” in which he starred with John Turturro, and “A Most Wanted Man,” with Robin Wright and Rachel McAdams. Both films are set to be released this year.
Not that Hoffman ever planned on being a movie star when he was young.
“When I started out, I didn’t even see myself doing movies. I was just going to do theater,” he told The Detroit News in a 2008 interview. “The amount of film work I’ve done was never on my radar. I thought other people did that stuff.”
Hoffman was born on July 23, 1967, in Fairport, N.Y., a suburb of Rochester. He caught the acting bug in high school and graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1989. In the early ’90s, he worked regularly in films, but he broke out in supporting roles in 1996’s “Twister” and 1997’s “Boogie Nights.”
Soon he was much in demand, and appearing in such films as “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “The Big Lebowski” and “Almost Famous.” After he won his Oscar for portraying author Truman Capote, Hoffman continued to push himself as an actor, never settling into any one type of role.
He was a villain in “Mission: Impossible III,” a maverick CIA agent in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” and earned another Oscar nomination as a troubled priest in “Doubt.” He’d pop into movies in small, offbeat roles and then take on surreal fare such as “Synecdoche, New York.”
All the while he was also active in live theater, both as an actor and director. Over the years Hoffman earned three Tony award nominations for his roles in “True West,” “Long Day’s Journey into Night” and, in 2012, for playing Willy Loman in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”
“Shocked to hear of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death,” comic Steve Martin tweeted Sunday. “If you missed him as Willy Loman, you missed a Willy Loman for all time.”
For Hoffman, the key to acting was turning off the mind and letting instinct take over.
“The simple act of doing something is the key to acting,” he told The News in 2008. “It’s the hardest thing to do. In life, you do things all day long, but once you’re trying to mirror, you actually think about doing it, and all of a sudden it’s a self-conscious act. And that screws it all up.”
Hoffman had been in a long-term relationship with costume designer Mimi O’Donnell, with whom he had three children.