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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”