"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
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
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
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
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.
Academy Awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Capote,
BAFTA: Best Actor In A Leading Role, Capote, 2006
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a
Leading Role, Capote, 2006
Boston Society of Film Critics: Best Actor, Capote, 2005
Dallas-Forth Worth Film Critics Association: Best Actor, Capote, 2005
Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actor, Capote, 2005
National Board of Review: Best Actor, Capote, 2005
Satellite Awards: Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama, Capote,
Southeastern Film Critics Association: Best Actor, Capote, 2005
Toronto Film Critics Association: Best Performance - Male, Capote, 2005
Chlotrudis Awards: Best Actor, Owning Mahowny, 2004
Vancouver Film Critics Circle: Best Actor - Canadian Film, Owning
Online Film Critics Society: Best Supporting Actor, Almost Famous, 2001
Online Film Critics Society: Best Ensemble Cast Performance, Almost
Florida Film Critics Circle: Best Ensemble Cast, State and Main, 2001
Online Film Critics Society: Best Ensemble Cast Performance, State and
National Board of Review: Best Acting by an Ensemble, State and Main,
Chlotrudis Awards: Best Actor, Magnolia, 2000
Florida Film Critics Circle: Best Ensemble Cast, Magnolia, 2000
Satellite Awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role,
Comedy or Musical, Flawless, 2000
Verona Love Screens Film Festival: Best Actor, Flawless, 2000
National Board of Review: Best Acting by an Ensemble, Flawless, 1999
San Diego Film Critics Society: Best Supporting Actor, Flawless, 1999
National Board of Review: Best Supporting Actor, Magnolia, 1999
National Board of Review: Best Supporting Actor, The Talented Mr.
Florida Film Critics Circle: Best Ensemble Cast, Boogie Nights, 1998
National Board of Review: Best Acting by an Ensemble, Happiness, 1998
Golden Satellite: Best Actor (Comedy or Musical), Flawless, 1998