Philip Seymour Hoffman Dead at 46

Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is reportedly dead of a drug overdose at the age of 46.


Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is reportedly dead of a drug overdose at the age of 46.

The Wall Street Journal broke the story. Whether for reasons of traffic overwhelming the server or something else, the story was inaccessible for quite some time. Here’s the version that appeared at 3:37 Eastern:

Award-winning Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman Found Dead in Manhattan

Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of an apparent drug overdose late Sunday morning in his New York City apartment, authorities said.

Law-enforcement officials said a hypodermic needle and two glassine envelopes containing what is believed to be heroin were found in the apartment on Bethune Street in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan.

The 46-year-old actor was found unconscious in the bathroom of his fourth floor apartment in the Pickwick House around 11:15 a.m. by screenwriter David Katz, who called 911, a law-enforcement official said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr. Hoffman was last seen around 8 p.m. Saturday, the official said. He was supposed to pick up his children Sunday morning and, when he didn’t, Mr. Katz and a friend went to check on him, the official said

The New York Police Department is investigating, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is working to determine the exact cause of death.

The accomplished actor and director won the Academy Award for best actor for his role as famed author Truman Capote in the 2005 film “Capote.” He also had a strong following in New York’s theater scene, starring in plays like 2012’s “Death of a Salesman” and directing others, like 1999’s “In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings.” He was nominated for a Tony Award three times.

Mr. Hoffman’s breakout role, however, was in 1997’s “Boogie Nights.” He also received accolades for his roles in high-profile films such as 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” and 1999’s “Magnolia.”

Mr. Hoffman was most recently seen in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” the second installment in the blockbuster “Hunger Games” series from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. He was set to star in two more installments in the franchise that are scheduled for release. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” is set to come out in November, with “Part 2” scheduled for November 2015.

Below are some early versions of the story from numerous other outlets whose coverage was available while the WSJ story was missing.

The New York Post (“Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead with needle in arm: cops”) is proceeding with its typical sensitivity:

Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of an apparent drug overdose — in the bathroom with a hypodermic needle still in his arm — inside a Greenwich Village home on Sunday morning, cops said.

A personal assistant found Hoffman’s body in an apartment at 35 Bethune St. and called 911 around 11:30 a.m, sources said.

Cops are at the scene and are investigating, sources said.

In 2006, Hoffman publicly admitted that he nearly succumbed to substance abuse graduating from NYU’s drama school, but got sober in rehab.

“It was all that (drugs and alcohol), yeah. It was anything I could get my hands on…I liked it all,”  he told “60 Minutes” as the time.

Reuters (“Philip Seymour Hoffman dead at 46, reports say“) is more reserved:

Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his apartment in New York City on Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a law-enforcement official.

The New York Police Department is investigating, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is to determine the exact cause of death, the newspaper reported.

Hoffman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 2005 biographical film Capote, and received three Academy Award nominations as Best Supporting Actor.

New York Times (“Philip Seymour Hoffman, Actor, Dies at 46“):

The actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment on Sunday morning of an apparent drug overdose, according to a law enforcement official who requested anonymity because he was not certain the actor’s family had been informed of the death.

The official said Mr. Hoffman, 46, had been found in his West Village apartment around 11:30 a.m. by a friend who had become concerned at not being able to reach Mr. Hoffman.

A cause of death had not yet been determined, the official said, but it appeared to have been the result of an overdose.

BBC (“Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman dies“):

Oscar-winning American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been found dead in New York, police sources have said.

The 46-year-old was found in his Manhattan apartment after a friend called the emergency services.

Medical officials have not yet commented on the the cause of death.

Hoffmann made his name in the 1990s in films including Boogie Nights and the Big Lebowski, before winning the best actor Oscar for his 2005 portrayal of writer Truman Capote.

Throughout his career he featured in independent films as well as Hollywood blockbusters such as Mission Impossible III.

His latest role was in the Hunger Games series of films.

As well as films, he also starred in Broadway plays and was nominated for two Tony Awards.

British actor John Hurt, who starred alongside Hoffman in the 2003 drama Owning Mahowny, said the news had hit him “very hard”.

“He was a great actor, a great member of the film and theatre community. An extraordinary talent, directorially as well as an actor. He’ll be greatly missed,” he said.

Last year Hoffman told celebrity news website TMZ that he had sought treatment for drug abuse.

He told the website he had used prescription drugs, and briefly heroin, before seeking help.

Owing to some glitches with the WSJ website, where the front page link to the story was down for more than half an hour, I  held out hope that this was some sort of sick and elaborate hoax. Alas, it was not.

Slate executive editor Josh Levin had the same recollection of Hoffman’s work as me:

 For all of the indelible parts he played, the role that come to mind first when I heard about his shocking death was his depiction of Lester Bangs. In this scene from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, Hoffman calls on his vast reserves of empathy to offer wise counsel to Patrick Fugit’s William Miller. The most important lesson: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”

A bit part in the movie, really, but one made memorable by a great actor not yet even in his prime.

A tragic waste.

This post has been edited from the original.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. It’s also being reported by CNN, and the NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates in New York City.

    There have been plenty of false reports of celebrity deaths via Twitter recently, but this one appears to be the real thing.

  2. CSK says:

    The WSJ linked worked for me just now, so the story there is apparently still up. I wish it weren’t true, but, sadly, it seems to be so.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Sadly, yes. NYT and CNN are reporting it now, too. Not sure what’s happening at WSJ.

  4. Mr. Replica says:

    And I was having a good day, too.

    (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻


  5. JoshB says:

    He was arguably one of the greatest actors to have existed. I cannot recall one single performance in which he did not shine. Very sad. I read he was sober 23 years, and then relapsed due to prescription drugs.

  6. PJ says:

    Way too soon.



  7. Gustopher says:

    He was fantastic in Capote, and pretty much everything else I have seen him in. Pity he died so young, he had decades of great performances in him otherwise.

    “Found dead with a needle in his arm” makes it a little hard not to speculate on whether it was intentional. I hope not, as I wouldn’t wish suicidal depression on anyone. Slipping back into an additction is more misery than I would wish on anyone.

    Poor man.

    Also, I think this means 6 more weeks of winter, more definitively than anything the groundhog said.

  8. Woody says:

    Drugs make no exceptions. Believers, atheists, elites, downtrodden, talented, kind, patriotic, rebellious. No exceptions at all. The sure-successful classmate sitting next to you might never make it due to drugs.

    So sorry for his family. I’m sure the media will give them privacy.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    Heroin has robbed us of so many talented folks.

  10. bill says:

    sucks, but it’s suicide anyway. idiots shooting themselves up for a buzz are just asking to die. one reason drugs should be legal- so they can off themselves whenever they wish to.

  11. andrew e. says:

    @bill: I’ve always believed there’s a distinct empathy gap, in a general sense, between liberal and conservative types. It’s why liberals tend to be better artists- they understand how to put themselves in other people’s shoes, in other situations, in ways conservatives simply cannot. It’s why liberals tend not to have a problem with something like gay marriage- they may not be gay but they’re able to understand why gays want to get married. They can put themselves in their place. It’s also why you’ll hear stories of very anti-gay conservatives who will change their mind when someone very close to them comes out; unless they have direct experience they lack the ability to understand who others are or what they’re going through.

    And this is ultimately why so many conservatives are complete assholes. Like you, Bill.

  12. Moderate Mom says:

    This brings to mind the death of Heath Ledger. It’s a shame we lose such talented actors to drug use. You’d think that lessons would be learned but, alas, too many think it couldn’t happen to them.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Rest in Peace

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @bill: Not you.

  15. Tillman says:

    I think I’ll watch Charlie Wilson’s War again. Haven’t seen it in a while.

    (Not sure that scene works as well without the rest of Hoffman’s performance, but it stands on its own.)

  16. al-Ameda says:


    sucks, but it’s suicide anyway. idiots shooting themselves up for a buzz are just asking to die. one reason drugs should be legal- so they can off themselves whenever they wish to.

    I hope you’re just joking, bill.
    Have you known of a friend or family member who has been consumed by drug and substance abuse? That alone, short of suicide, is sad and distressing.

  17. Pinky says:

    @andrew e.: I think you’re seeing the troll empathy gap here.

  18. Pinky says:

    I didn’t know that Hoffman had had a drug problem. It’s a shame. RIP.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    actually…taken to it’s logical limits this death would argue for regulation of heroin…as it seems PSH got a bad batch…laced with fentanyl…which has so far killed over a hundred people across the country.
    unlike you i would never argue for such a thing.
    to do so would be flat out stupid.
    apparently it is true…stupid is as stupid does.

  20. bill says:

    @andrew e.: seriously?
    1) i empathize with those who are in dire straights, this guy was one of those who couldn’t control himself yet had all the means to. belushi, farley, etc. all great at what they did but totally out of control and nobody would/could do anything for them. they were on a one way trip to nowhere and society just tosses them the keys and admires their recklessness until they die- and then feign surprise. i’m sure they’ll have some whiny memorial at the next gay awards show and they’ll pan the audience to see who’s getting all weepy…..i won’t be watching.
    2) he was supposed to pick up his kids? ……probably not the first time he was supposed to while he was whacked out on “h”. great parent there- if he wasn’t so wealthy he would be in jail for that alone.
    3) I’ve had friends who were junkies, you can only help them so much before you realize they already “died” and were looking for a means to an end. druggies are weak, and the weak with it.
    @al-Ameda: yes, see above
    @C. Clavin: same deal, self inflicted and just a matter of time before he offed himself. heard the cops are “seriously looking” for his dealer- like it’s their fault this guy couldn’t control himself. blame the gun, not the shooter again!?

    once again, he’s a great actor but now he’s dead and its his owned damned fault- not the first and won’t be the last. should have a “dead pool” to see who’s next maybe?

  21. Matt says:

    @C. Clavin: Very possible that he got a bad batch or a batch that was purer then he expected.

    Heroin (diamorphine) is used around the world in the medical field because it has far fewer side effects then regular morphine.

  22. anjin-san says:

    @ bill

    this guy was one of those who couldn’t control himself yet had all the means to

    Please explain how one buys an exemption from human weakness and frailty – things that are baked into the greater human condition.

    We all have weak spots. Yours are apparent every time you share your thoughts.

  23. CB says:


    I’ve had friends who were junkies, you can only help them so much before you realize they already “died” and were looking for a means to an end


    That’s a really, really terrible comment, and it betrays a lack of empathy and a lack of understanding of addiction, and the downward spiral. I hope that at some point you realize just how wrong that line of thought is.