Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead in New York

Oscar-winning actor (46) dies from an apparent drug overdose in his apartment

Philip Seymour Hoffman attended last month's Sundance Film Festival to promote "A Most Wanted Man," which will now be released posthumously following his death at age 46. Video: Reuters

Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 10:26

The distinguished actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, winner of an Oscar for Capote, has been found dead in his New York apartment.

Hoffman, who was 46, had struggled with drug addiction in the past and was admitted to a detoxification facility last year.

The New York Post reported that heroin was located in the apartment and that there was a needle in the actor’s arm. A friend discovered the body at 11.30am New York time this morning. Police are continuing to investigate.

Philip Seymour Hoffman winning Best Actor

For once, it is no exaggeration to say that Hoffman was among the very finest actors of his generation.

After securing supporting roles in Scent of a Woman and Twister, he went on to triumph in films such as The Talented Mr Ripley, Magnolia and The Master.

In 2006 his performance as eccentric writer Truman Capote in Bennett Miller’s Capote secured what most observers assumed would be the first of several Academy Awards. He also received best-supporting actor nominations for Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt and The Master.

Born in Fairport, New York, Hoffman was raised in a prosperous family: his mother was a judge and his father was an executive at Xerox. While at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, he founded a theatre company with Miller and began establishing a reputation for playing off-centre, vulnerable oddballs.

A round man, with a voice that often hissed and heaved, he was never likely to become a matinee idol. But imaginative directors immediately recognised his potential to make something special of modestly sized character roles. “I know I wasn’t as handsome as some other guys, but I was okay with that,” he once said.

When his name finally became known to film-goers, many realised that, without knowing it, they had, for quite a few years, been watching him toiling busily in the corner of the screen.

He was brilliantly creepy as a lickspittle in the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski. He was pathetic as sexually conflicted pornographer in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. His collaboration with Anderson was, perhaps, the most fruitful of his career.

In 2012, his turn as a near-deranged guru in that director’s The Master proved, yet again, that, despite being rarely mistaken for Clark Gable, he had enough charisma to topline a major picture.

Later this year, he will be seen in Anton Corbijn’s adaption of John Le Carré’s A Most Wanted Man and John Slattery’s God’s Pocket, both of which premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival. He was also due to appear in the last two parts of The Hunger Games franchise, some scenes of which have already been shot.

Hoffman had long been in a relationship with Mimi O’Donnell, a costume designer, and he is survived by their three children.