Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014) was an American actor, director, and producer of film and theater. Best known for his distinctive supporting and character roles – typically lowlifes, bullies, and misfits – Hoffman was a regular presence in films from the early 1990s until his death at age 46.
Drawn to theater as a teenager, Hoffman studied acting at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He began his screen career in a 1991 episode of Law & Order and started to appear in films in 1992. He gained recognition for his supporting work throughout the decade, notably in Boogie Nights (1997), Happiness (1998), The Big Lebowski (1998), Magnolia (1999), and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). He began to occasionally play leading roles, and for his portrayal of the author Truman Capote in Capote (2005), won multiple accolades including the Academy Award for Best Actor. Hoffman's profile continued to grow, and he received three more Oscar nominations for his supporting work as a brutally frank CIA officer in Charlie Wilson's War (2007), a priest accused of pedophilia in Doubt (2008), and the charismatic leader of a Scientology-type movement in The Master (2012).
While he mainly worked in independent films, including The Savages (2007) and Synecdoche, New York (2008), Hoffman also appeared in Hollywood blockbusters, such as Twister (1996) and Mission: Impossible III (2006), and, in one of his final roles, as Plutarch Heavensbee in the Hunger Games series (2013–15). The feature Jack Goes Boating (2010) marked his debut as a filmmaker. Hoffman was also an accomplished theater actor and director. He joined the off-Broadway LAByrinth Theater Company in 1995, where he directed, produced, and appeared in numerous stage productions. His performances in three Broadway plays – True West (2000), Long Day's Journey into Night (2003), and Death of a Salesman (2012) – all led to Tony Award nominations.
Hoffman struggled with drug addiction as a young adult, and relapsed in 2013 after many years of sobriety. In February 2014, he was found dead with a syringe of heroin still in his arm, but official cause of death was combined drug intoxication – an unexpected event that was widely lamented in the film and theater industries. Remembered for his fearlessness in playing reprehensible characters, and for bringing depth and humanity to such roles, Hoffman was described in his New York Times obituary as "perhaps the most ambitious and widely admired American actor of his generation".