News / Arts & Entertainment

Autopsy Conducted on Hoffman, Answers Sought on Actor's Drug Use

FILE - Philip Seymour Hoffman poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah, Jan. 19, 2014.
FILE - Philip Seymour Hoffman poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah, Jan. 19, 2014.
Reuters
Authorities were conducting an autopsy on the body of acclaimed stage and film actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday of an apparent drug overdose, an official said on Monday.  

Hoffman, considered by many to be one of the finest actors of his generation, was discovered in the bathroom of his Greenwich Village apartment with a syringe in his arm.

"We're conducting the examination in the cause of the manner of death," said Julia Bolcer, spokeswoman for the New York City Medical Examiner. She added that she was not sure when the results would be available.

One big question in the 46-year-old actor's sudden death: why a talented man at a seemingly good point in his career apparently returned to the drugs that had plagued him in his youth.

New York City police sources familiar with the investigation said 50 small bags of what appeared to be heroin were found in Hoffman's apartment. Authorities found other drugs, including a medication for high blood pressure that is also used for treating opiate withdrawal, the sources said.

Police were trying to determine the source of the substance that apparently killed Hoffman and whether it was a deadly strain of heroin laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate more potent than morphine, sources said.

Erin Mulvey, a spokeswoman for the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), confirmed there has been "a rash of heroin ODs in the Northeast" recently tied to the strain.

The autopsy could explain how Hoffman apparently died soon after injecting what seemed to be heroin. But the why was another matter.

Although Hoffman was believed to have been sober for more than 20 years, Larissa Mooney, a physician and psychiatry professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said addiction is a chronic brain disease.

"People, places and things that remind somebody of using can take a powerful hold and lead users to relapse even after treatment," Mooney said.

A makeshift memorial sits outside the home of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, Feb. 3, 2014, in New York.A makeshift memorial sits outside the home of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, Feb. 3, 2014, in New York.
x
A makeshift memorial sits outside the home of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, Feb. 3, 2014, in New York.
A makeshift memorial sits outside the home of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, Feb. 3, 2014, in New York.
Tributes to Hoffman continued pouring in. Marquees of Broadway theaters in New York will be dimmed on Wednesday night for one minute in memory of the actor.

"He was a fixture in the neighborhood. It's heartbreaking," said a tearful Tara Driver, an art education student who lived near Hoffman's home in the West Village, part of Greenwich Village.

Struggle With Drugs

The death of Hoffman, who won the best actor Oscar for his role in the 2005 biographical film "Capote," raised new concerns about drug addiction in the entertainment industry.

If a heroin overdose is confirmed, Hoffman will join the list of entertainers who have succumbed to drugs in the last decade.

"Glee" actor Cory Monteith, 31, died of an accidental overdose of heroin and alcohol in October in Vancouver. Drugs were also the cause of death of Australian actor Heath Ledger in 2008 and singer Whitney Houston in 2012.

In decades past, overdoses from legal or illegal drugs have claimed the lives of entertainers, including Marilyn Monroe, John Belushi, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

Hoffman spoke in the past of struggling with drugs, including a 2006 interview in which he told CBS he had at times abused "anything I could get my hands on. I liked it all."

Dr. Joseph Haraszti, a California-based addiction expert, said Hoffman appeared to suffer for his profession.

"He also mentioned that acting for him was a very difficult process," Haraszti said. "He would always take on the most difficult roles but it took a lot out of him."

John Tsilimparis, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, said fame, fortune and the pressure to perform and maintain an image can be a lethal combination.

"In most occupations there are consequences for drug use, people lose their jobs and livelihoods. But with celebrities there is very little forfeiture of career and money when you have an addiction. There is less accountability," he said.

'Boundless and Profound Talent'

Hoffman's family issued a statement on Sunday saying they were devastated by his death. He is survived by three children and his longtime partner Mimi O'Donnell.

Born in upstate New York near Rochester, the actor appeared on stage and in films often portraying characters with innate intelligence and logical minds driven by underlying passion.

In addition to his Academy Award Hoffman also received three Oscar nominations as best supporting actor, for "The Master" in 2013, "Doubt" in 2009 and "Charlie Wilson's War" in 2008. He also appeared in  blockbusters such as "Twister" and was working on the final installment of "The Hunger Games." But he was more often associated with the independent films such as "Happiness," in which he played an obscene phone caller, and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."

Hoffman earned Tony award nominations for his role as the main character Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman," and for his parts in "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and "True West."

"We'll always be grateful for his boundless and profound talent that he shared with us on the Broadway stage," said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League.

Hoffman appeared last month at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah for the premiere of the film "A Most Wanted Man," in which he played German spy Gunther Bachmann. He was also set to star in a 10-episode dark comedy for cable TV channel Showtime.

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman arrives for the world premiere of the film "Moneyball" in Oakland, California, Sept. 19, 2011.
  • A portrait and flowers in memory of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is displayed outside Philip Marie Restaurant and bar on Hudson Street in Manhattan, New York, Feb. 2, 2014.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman seen at Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Los Angeles Premiere, Nov, 18, 2013.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, best supporting actor nominee for "Charlie Wilson's War", arrives with his girlfriend Mimi O'Donnell at the 80th annual Academy Awards, the Oscars, Feb. 24, 2008.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman poses with his award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama for "Capote" at the 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Jan. 16, 2006.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."