"Success isn't what makes you happy. It really isn't. Success is doing what makes you happy and doing good work and hopefully having a fruitful life. If I've felt like I've done good work, that makes me happy. The success part of it is all gravy." Philip Seymour Hoffman.
One of the most original, versatile Hollywood actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman
had his first breakthrough screen role as Scotty in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights (1997) and eventually garnered international recognition with his Academy Award-winning role of Capote in 2005 film with the same name. Hoffman was also credited in such films as Scent of a Woman (1992), Happiness (1998), The Big Lebowski (1998), Flawless (1999), Magnolia (1999), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), State and Main (2000), Almost Famous (2000), Owning Mahowny (2003), Cold Mountain (2003), Along Came Polly (2004) and Mission: Impossible III (2006). He will star in the upcoming films The Savages, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, and Charlie Wilson's War.
"Doing a play is good for me because it's a nice change from being on a movie set. I try to do a play every year because it just invigorates me." Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Adding to his acclaimed big screen work, Hoffman is also an applauded stage actor. He has been nominated for Broadway's Tony Award twice: as Best Actor (Play) in 2000 for a revival of Sam Shepard's “True West,” and as Best Actor (Featured Role -Play) in 2003 for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's “Long Day's Journey into Night.”
More personally, the 5' 9½ tall, strawberry blond and of Irish descent actor has been involved with costume designer Mimi O'Donnell. They have one son together and are expecting a second child in November 2006.
Childhood and Family:
"A lot of people describe me as chubby, which seems so easy, so first-choice. Or stocky. Fair-skinned. Tow-headed. There are so many other choices. How about dense? I mean, I'm a thick kind of guy. But I'm never described in attractive ways. I'm waiting for somebody to say I'm at least cute. But nobody has." Philip Seymour Hoffman.
In Fairport, outside of Rochester, in upstate New York, Philip Seymour Hoffman was born on July 23, 1967, to Gordon S. Hoffman, a former Xerox executive and Marilyn O'Connor, a family court judge. Although his father was Protestant and his mother was Catholic, Hoffman was not raised strictly in either religion. Hoffman has three siblings: sisters Jill (older) and Emily (younger), and a younger brother, Gordon Hoffman (a.k.a. Gordy Hoffman), who scripted the 2002 film Love Liza, in which Philip starred. His parents divorced when he was nine years old.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, nicknamed Phil, was an avid athlete, a wrestler in high school who also held an interest in acting. But in his sophomore year of high school, Hoffman suffered a neck injury that prevented him from playing multiple sports. He then turned his interest in acting and attended Circle in the Square Professional Theatre School, New York, New York. He then entered the prestigious undergraduate training program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He received his BFA in drama in 1989. Soon after graduating, he checked to drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation and managed to be sober later. About being sober at age 22, Hoffman said: "I was 22 and I was panicked for my life."
During 2003, Hoffman taught an advanced Directing the Actor class for one semester at Columbia University School of the Arts Graduate Film Division.
While working on the 1999 play “In Arabia We'd All Be Kings,” which he directed, Hoffman met costume designer Mimi O'Donnell and they have romantic relationship since then. In March 2003, the couple welcomed their first child together, son Cooper Alexander. They are expecting a second child in November 2006.
"On my down time I do a lot of nothing. I just kinda read, run and hang out with friends because I haven't had a lot of it lately. I just try to do a lot of nothing. Go to some sports. I like to play tennis. I travel a lot with my work now so if you are traveling all the time you don't want to travel you want to stay home. And when you stay home you really don't want to do too much because you've been going out and getting up early and staying out late all the time. So you just do very little." Philip Seymour Hoffman.
On Screen and Stage
"Not only couldn't I get a job as an actor, I couldn't hold down the temporary non-acting jobs I managed to get. I got fired as a waiter in restaurants and as a lifeguard at a spa." Philip Seymour Hoffman (on his life before films).
Aspiring actor Philip Seymour Hoffman appeared in his high school production of Death of a Salesman, directed by Midge Marshall. The New York's Tisch School of Drama alum also did a host of theater work, performing in New York, Chicago and on a European tour. In 1991, he landed on the small screen, as a defendant in an episode of the NBC court drama “Law & Order.” He subsequently graced the big screen, in films like Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole (credited as Phil Hoffman), Szuler, My New Gun, and Leap of Faith.
"Other people disagree with me, but Scent of a Woman really was my breakthrough. I was working in the prepared foods section of a deli when I was cast in that movie, and I've never had a non-acting job since. That's amazing." Philip Seymour Hoffman.
In 1992, Hoffman made his film breakthrough in director Martin Brest's Oscar-winning drama Scent of a Woman (starring Al Pacino), playing a backstabbing classmate to Chris O'Donnell’s earnest college student. The acclaimed film was adapted by Bo Goldman from the novel Il Buio E Il Miele ("Darkness and Honey") by Giovanni Arpino and from the 1974 screenplay for the movie Profumo Di Donna by Ruggero Maccari and Dino Risi.
"If I hadn't gotten into Scent of a Woman, I wouldn't be where I am today. It's been a domino effect ever since." Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Following his first break, Hoffman played roles in the 1993 features Joey Breaker, My Boyfriend's Back, and Money for Nothing. The next year, he had a featured role in Peter Sellars' staging of "The Merchant of Venice," which was performed in Chicago, Paris, Hamburg and London. And after making his TV-movie debut in CBS The Yearling, he received more film credits with small parts in 1994 films The Getaway, When A Man Loves A Woman, and Nobody's Fool.
In 1996, Hoffman appeared as one of the storm chasers in a memorable turn in Twister and made his first collaboration with director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor John C Reilly, in the film Hard Eight/Sydney. The following year, he scored another breakthrough screen role as Scotty, the crew member with a crush on Mark Wahlberg's Dirk Diggler, in Anderson's Boogie Nights. The dark comedy film, which depicts the pornographic film industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s, received three Oscar nominations. Hoffman was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast at Screen Actors Guild Awards.
After being featured in the PBS six-part documentary special Liberty! The American Revolution (1997), Hoffman returned to stage, costarring in the Off-Broadway production of "Shopping and F**king" (1998). Moviegoers then saw him playing an unsettling and memorable turn as sexually frustrated loner who is obsessed with his next door neighbor, in writer-director Todd Solondz’s dark drama comedy Happiness (1998). Hoffman, alongside the film's cast members received the National Board of Review award for best ensemble performance. Meanwhile, he also had a featured role as a slick accountant in the independent dark comedy Montana, which broadcasted on HBO in lieu of theatrical release.
In the Coen brothers' cult classic comedy The Big Lebowski (starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi), Hoffman had pivotal supporting role as Brandt, loyal assistant to Mr. Lebowski. On getting his part in The Big Lebowski, Hoffman said: "It's the Coen brothers, and you never think you're going to get to work with people like that. I thought I'd never get the part. So I wanted to do something very weird. I went in and started ranting and raving and they were laughing their asses off. I was petrified but, I figured, at least they laughed a lot."
Hoffman became Hope Davis' activist boyfriend in a 1998 romantic comedy film directed by Brad Anderson, Next Stop Wonderland, which was an audience favorite at the Sundance Film Festival that year, and played a by-the-book medical student who clashes with the idealistic title character in Tom Shadyac's Oscar-nominating sentimental biopic Patch Adams (starring Robin Williams). He then brought life to Freddie Miles, an obnoxious old friend of Jude Law’s Dickie Greenleaf, in Anthony Minghella’s film version of Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. The Oscar-nominating film also stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett.
"Playing Freddie Miles was really easy. It was one of those parts you know exactly what you're doing. The character is not beating around the bush at all. His main action is to expose Tom Ripley as a phoney." Philip Seymour Hoffman (on his role in the Talented Mr. Ripley).
In 1999, Hoffman portrayed a flamboyant, pre-op transsexual vocal teacher opposite Robert De Niro’s homophobic character in writer-director Joel Schumacher’s Flawless. The role earned Hoffman a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at Screen Actors Guild Awards. During that time, Hoffman made his stage directorial debut with "In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings." He also played Phil Parma, the nurse taking care Jason Robards' terminally ill character, in writer-director Anderson's Oscar-nominating Magnolia (opposite Julianne Moore, Jason Robards and Tom Cruise). The role presented Hoffman a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture at Screen Actors Guild Awards.
"I think Magnolia is one of the best films I've ever seen and I can say that straight and out and anybody that disagrees with me I'll fight you to the death. I just think it is one of the greatest films I've ever been in and ever seen." Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Hoffman continued to add to his film career resume with roles as a mild-mannered, first-time screenwriter in David Mamet's spoof about movie making State and Main (alongside Alec Baldwin) and as legendary rock writer Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe's box office hit and Oscar-nominating Almost Famous (both in 2000), the latter of which earned him a nomination for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture at Screen Actors Guild Awards. After hosting the documentary "The Last Party 2000," Hoffman was cast in director Spike Lee's adaptation of David Benioff's novel, The 25th Hour (starring Edward Norton), and starred as a website designer whose wife mysteriously committed suicide, in Todd Louiso’s Sundance screened Love Liza, written by brother Gordy Hoffman.
In 2002, Hoffman played Freddy Lounds in the prequel to Silence of the Lamb, the thriller feature based on the novel written by Thomas Harris, Red Dragon, and reunited with Anderson in the dark romantic comedy Punch-Drunk Love, alongside Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. He then joined Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman and Renee Zellweger in the all-star cast of director Anthony Minghella's adaptation of Charles Frazier's novel, the Oscar-nominating Cold Mountain (2003). He also played the lead role of bank employee and compulsive gambler Dan Mahowny in the biopic Owning Mahowny, based on the story of the largest one man bank fraud in Canadian history.
"It was an incredibly honest, unique, specific and personal story of addiction. He lives to feed the beast and it gets him farther away from reality, intimacy and life.To me, it's not even about gambling. It's about a man and how he behaves in this pressurized world he has created for himself. There is no relief for this guy. It's about a man who cuts off his feelings at the same time his girlfriend [Minnie Driver] comes at him harder. Life comes at him harder, too, but he can only think about his addiction." Philip Seymour Hoffman (on his role in Owning Mahowny).
After teaming with Ben Stiller, Debra Messing and Jennifer Aniston in writer-director John Hamburg’s Along Came Polly (2004), Hoffman consolidated his reputation as one of the finest actors under the age of 40 with his turn in the role of Truman Capote, the openly gay southern author with his weaknesses for fame, alcohol and attention, in Bennett Miller's biopic Capote (2005). The role, ranked #35 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006), earned Hoffman numerous high-profile accolades and awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Following his big victory, Hoffman earned an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for starring opposite Ed Harris in the drama Empire Falls (2005). More recently, he portrayed Tom Cruise’s biggest villain, criminal arms dealer Owen Davian, in J. J. Abrams' Mission: Impossible III (2006). He reportedly has been offered the role of The Penguin in The Dark Knight, the upcoming sequel to Batman Begins. He will soon complete his upcoming film, writer-director Tamara Jenkins' The Savages, a comedy drama following adult siblings (Hoffman and Laura Linney) who are forced to take care of their estranged, ailing father. He is also set to star opposite Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in Sidney Lumet's thriller drama Charlie Wilson's War and with Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei in Mike Nichols' drama based on George Crile's book, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.
"The stage can be more satisfying because you spend a lot of time rehearsing, and film is more technical. In the end it just depends on the work and the director. I do like the world of the theater though." Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Adding to his applauded film acting, Hoffman is also highly praised on stage. He has nabbed two Tony nominations, as Best Actor (Play) in 2000 for a revival of Sam Shepard's "True West" (opposite John C Reilly) and as Best Actor (Featured Role - Play) in 2003 for a revival of Eugene O'Neill (I)'s "Long Day's Journey into Night" (with Brian Dennehy, Vanessa Redgrave and Robert Sean Leonard). He was also credited in the New York theater for performing in "The Seagull" (directed by Mike Nichols for The New York Shakespeare Festival), "Defying Gravity" and "The Author's Voice" (Drama Desk nomination). Hoffman, the Co-Artistic Director of the LAByrinth Theater Company in New York, also directed "Our Lady of 121st Street" by Stephen Adly Guirgis. He also has helmed "Jesus Hopped the A Train" by Guirgis for LAByrinth and "The Glory of Living" (starring Anna Paquin) by Rebecca Gilman at the Manhattan Class Company.
"I'm probably more personal when I'm acting than at any other time. More open, more direct. Because it allows me to be something that I can't always feel comfortable with when I'm living my own life, you know? Because it's make-believe." Philip Seymour Hoffman.