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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs