Accessibility links

New Yorkers React to Actor Hoffman's Death

  • Adam Phillips

Philip Seymour Hoffman, the award-winning actor who died Sunday of an apparent heroin overdose in Manhattan, is being mourned by members of the Broadway and Hollywood communities, as well as by fellow New Yorkers in his Greenwich Village neighborhood.

Hoffman, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of author Truman Capote, was celebrated for playing characters pushed to life’s edge.

When news came that Hoffman was found dead in a Greenwich Village apartment he used as an office, the shock was both immediate and visceral for fellow actors, including Kevin Costner.

“It a shame, because who knows what he would have been able to do? But we’re left with the legacy of the work he’s done, and it all speaks for itself,” Costner said

On Monday well-wishers stopped outside the building where the actor died to pay their respects.

Lisa Rifkin recalled Hoffman’s work leading a neighborhood theater and mentoring artists.

“He was a local person, a community person, who cared about art and understood that the nature of art is to bond with human beings and community," she said. "He cared about the community.”

While Greenwich Village is home to many famous people, few were as well-liked and welcomed as Hoffman at Entwine, a local bar where he often met friends, students and fellow actors.

“When he comes here, he was pretty mellow," said bar owner Mila Simsek. "He doesn’t act like big drama, I am Hollywood star. He was just friendly and he likes to talk to people here. Not only with us, with customers as well. We had such a fun times with him.”

Heroin addicts often keep their disease a secret, says Dr. Stuart Kloda, an addiction specialist.

"You'd be surprised the people you see walking around, and they seem so together, and they've got a lot going on -- they're just highly functioning because of XYZ, for various reasons,” he said.

While Hoffman’s legacy as one of the great actors of his generation is secure, what is less certain is how many more talented people will be claimed by drugs and alcohol. And what Hoffman could have achieved had he lived and worked to a ripe and sober old age.