There’s been shock today with the news, via the Wall Street Journal, that acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been discovered dead in the bathroom of his New York Apartment. Although cause of death has not been officially determined yet, it’s believed the 46-year-old overdosed on drugs.
Hoffman had battled substance abuse for many years. This included a stint in rehab last year, which surprised many as most in Hollywood had believed the actors’ drug issues were behind him.
Hoffman first started getting noticed in film in the 1990s thanks to a series of ‘that guy’ scene stealing supporting performances in the likes of Twister, Boogie Nights and The Big Lebowski. He soon started becoming a star name in his own right in the likes of The Talented Mr. Ripley, Magnolia, Almost Famous and Red Dragon.
He topped that by winning an Oscar playing the title role in Capote, and continued to mix indie and mainstream projects ranging from Mission: Impossible III to Synedoche, New York.
While Hoffman was straight himself, he held an important role in bringing LGBT characters to the big screen and helping integrate them into popular cinema without their sexuality being the main/only thing about them. Whether as the slightly Dirk Diggler obsessed Scotty in Boogie Nights, the flamboyant drag queen Rusty in Flawless, or in his Oscar-winning performance as Truman Capote, Hoffman never shied away from exploring LGBT lives.
Some of his performances which weren’t overtly gay have been interpreted that way by some observers due to the qualities he chose to bring to them. These include his turns in Magnolia and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Most recently in The Master, his Lancaster Dodd deliberately played with the character’s sexuality and whether Dodd was a closeted gay man unable to admit he was in love with Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell.
While Hoffman directed for the stage for many years, he didn’t helm his first movie until 2010 with the promising Jack Goes Boating. He was currently deep in pre-production on his second directorial outing, the supernatural thriller Ezekiel Moss, which only yesterday announced that Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams were set to star.
Hoffman was undoubted one of the best respected actors of his generation, and one who most had expected to have a illustrious career over the next few decades. Sadly that has now been cut short.