Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was known for his prowess on the big screen as well as on stage. He was a fixture both on Broadway and in Hollywood for more than two decades. During that time, he collected dozens of credits in movies and on television. He was also involved, as both an actor and a director, with numerous stage productions. Hoffman succumbed to a long-time drug addiction, dying of an overdose in February 2014. With his death comes a bittersweet opportunity to look back at his award-winning career as a versatile entertainer.
“Mission Impossible: III” may be best known as the third installment in the heart-pounding suspense series starring Tom Cruise, but the film also garnered Philip Seymour Hoffman a nomination for Best Supporting Actor by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Earning second billing in this title, Hoffman played a black market arms dealer. Fitting himself with chilling realism into this “bad guy” role, Hoffman gained high critical acclaim.
“The Master,” a 2012 drama from director Paul Thomas Anderson, positioned Hoffman in a powerful supporting role versus Joaquin Phoenix. The film earned Hoffman Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. He played Lancaster Dodd, the charismatic founder of a religious movement modeled loosely after Scientology. As Dodd, he befriended a struggling World War II veteran, played by Phoenix, and went on to catch the attention of the entire nation.
The 2009 “Doubt” also earned Hoffman Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. Another film with religion at its center, “Doubt” starred Hoffman as a Catholic priest who may be engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a student. Acting alongside Meryl Streep, Hoffman delighted fans by seamlessly slipping into an emotionally taxing role.
In 2007’s “The Savages,” Hoffman paired up with on-screen sister Laura Linney. The movie followed the mental journey of the siblings as they took care of their dementia-addled father, who abused them as children. A film fraught with palpable angst in nearly every scene, Hoffman still managed to imbue the work with his characteristic brand of dark humor. Hoffman earned a Golden Globe nomination for this film.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, “Empire Falls” was brought to life as an HBO movie in 2005. Starring a big-name cast that included Ed Harris, Helen Hunt and Paul Newman, Hoffman was nominated for a Primetime Emmy award for Best Supporting Actor. Although he had a relatively small role in the film, Hoffman stood out for his ability to lend his acting genius to a largely enigmatic character.
“The Ides of March,” a 2011 film directed by George Clooney, starred Hoffman as a campaign manager in a film that showcased the unseemly aspects of politics. Also starring Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Clooney, this film gave Hoffman the chance to shine next to big-name actors.
As the top-billed actor in 2007’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” Hoffman put his all into this thrilling crime drama. Hoffman played the older brother to Ethan Hawke’s character, and the pair joined forces to rob their parents’ store. The duo shared more than criminal instinct, however, with Hoffman’s on-screen wife Marisa Tomei secretly carrying on with Hawke. The cast earned a nomination for Best Acting Ensemble from the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards.
As a CIA operative in 2007’s “Charlie Wilson’s War,” Hoffman got to use his patented ability to be subtly flamboyant. On screen, his take on the role sometimes overrode co-stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, and he earned an Academy Awards nomination for his efforts.
Hoffman may end up best-remembered for his work in three of the four movies from “The Hunger Games” franchise. In 2013’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” Hoffman was at the top of his game as Plutarch Heavensbee . The final two installments in the series were in filming and post-production status when Hoffman passed away. These are the last credits in Hoffman’s notable career.
Arguably Hoffman’s most-lauded role, his portrayal of the title character in “Capote” earned the actor an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA film. Following the timeline of Capote’s infamous nonfiction masterpiece, “In Cold Blood,” Hoffman smoothly brought the actor back to life. His performance gathered accolades from top reviewers, who called his performance “uncanny,” “miraculous” and “breathtaking.”
A discussion of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s acting career is incomplete without mentioning his two Tony Award nominations for work as an actor on Broadway. The first nod came for his role in “True West,” while the second was from his work in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Although his life was cut tragically short, Hoffman’s legacy as an actor is firmly cemented in his extraordinary body of work.