Philip Seymour Hoffman Fans Mourn As Autopsy Set To Determine Exact Cause Of Death
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York City Medical Examiner’s office will determine the exact cause of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, as many across New York, Hollywood and beyond remember the Oscar-winning actor.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, Broadway theaters have planned a tribute to the three-time Tony Award nominee. He was found dead in his West Village apartment Sunday.
An autopsy was planned for Monday, according to medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer.
The Medical Examiner’s office said it will not be releasing autopsy results on Monday, as the investigation remained incomplete.
Authorities said that they found 70 bags containing a substance that was determined to be heroin. Some of the bags were branded with an Ace Of Hearts and an Ace Of Spades Marking.
The NYPD also said it is awaiting results for tests on the purity of the drugs Hoffman took to determine whether they contained any possible additives. Police said that those tests are complicated and are expected to take days.
Among additives that could have been in the bags is a substance called fentanyl. Medical experts told CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport that fentanyl and heroin can be a lethal combination.
“When you combine them you are certainly playing Russian roulette with your life,” addiction psychologist Dr. Harris Startyner explained, “They suppress your breathing and they suppress your heart function.”
Police sources told CBS 2 that Hoffman’s death appears to be a straight overdose but that the investigation could take a serious criminal turn if it turns out that an additive contributed to the actor’s death.
The tribute outside Hoffman’s home Monday was small, but heartfelt. Bouquets of flowers lying against the exterior wall made for a splash of color on a snow day – along with a few candles.
Neighbors Nathan and Tara Driver said Hoffman was a star who did not act like one.
“A lot of people in my building had drinks with him at the local bars and whatnot, and it’s just a tragedy for this community,” Nathan Driver said.
“There’s just not many like him,” added Tara Driver.
CBS 2 confirmed that Hoffman was found with a needle in his arm and bags of eight bags of confirmed heroin nearby — three used and five unused.
Authorities as of Monday still working to identify the supplier of the drugs, sources told CBS 2.
There has recently been a spike in fatal heroin overdoses, sources said, as well as increase in seizures of heroin both in the city and across the country. There’s no indication as of yet that this particular brand is linked to other overdose deaths in New York City or elsewhere, sources said.
Late Sunday, crime-scene technicians were seen carrying brown paper bags went in and out of Hoffman’s building as officers held back a growing crowd of onlookers.
Hoffman’s family called the news “tragic and sudden.”
“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone,” the family said in a statement.
There were no dissenters about the gifts and achievements of Hoffman, whose death brought a stunning halt to his extraordinary and unpredictable career.
“Hearing that Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away came as much as a shock to me as to anyone else I’d imagine,” said Anton Corbijn, director of “A Most Wanted Man,” one of two films starring Hoffman that premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival.
“One of the greats of his generation,” Albert Brooks posted on Twitter.
“A tragedy to lose as supremely talented an actor as Philip Seymour Hoffman. An unspeakable loss for film, theater & all who knew him,” Kevin Spacey tweeted.
Besides his Oscar win for “Capote,” the stage-trained Hoffman received four Academy Awards nominations and several nominations for theater awards, including three Tonys.
The marquees of Broadway theaters will dim their lights for one minute at 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday, the Broadway League announced Monday.
“Philip Seymour Hoffman, a three-time Tony Award nominee, was a true artist who loved the theatre. His prolific body of work encompassed various mediums including theatre, film, and television, and we’ll always be grateful for his boundless and profound talent that he shared with us on the Broadway stage. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and fans,” said Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the Broadway League.
In one of his earliest movie roles, he played a spoiled prep school student in “Scent of a Woman” in 1992.
A breakthrough came for him as a gay member of a porno film crew in “Boogie Nights,” one of several movies directed by Paul Thomas Anderson that Hoffman would eventually appear in.
He played comic, off-kilter characters in “Along Came Polly” and “The Big Lebowski.” He bantered unforgettably with Laura Linney as squabbling siblings in “The Savages.” He was grumpy and idealistic as rock critic Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous.” He was grumpy and cynical as baseball manager Art Howe in “Moneyball.”
Many younger moviegoers know him as the scheming Plutarch Heavensbee in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and he was reprising that role in the two-part sequel, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay,” for which his work was mostly completed.
“Words cannot convey the devastating loss we are all feeling right now. Philip was a wonderful person and an exceptional talent, and our hearts are breaking,” the producers, writer, director, cast and crew of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1 and Part 2,” in a statement.
The films are scheduled for November 2014 and November 2015 releases.
He was equally acclaimed and productive, often appearing in at least two to three films a year, while managing an active life in the theater. He had been thriving for more than 20 years and no one doubted that a long, compelling run awaited him.
Hoffman was born and raised in upstate Fairport, N.Y., and graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
“We don’t have a lot of people from Rochester we can call our own,” said Derek Reis of the Rochester Little Theater. “To have somebody like that, the whole community used to come out and see all his films.”
Hoffman first started acting in high school near Rochester. He frequently returned to upstate New York for workshops and fundraisers.
“Truly outstanding, outstanding talent at the prime of his life, to be taken,” said Bob Sagan of the Rochester Broadway Theatre League. “And it’s just very, very sad.”
Hoffman spoke candidly over the years about past struggles with drug addiction.
In 2006, Hoffman told Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” that he fought substance abuse for years.
He said he had abused drugs, alcohol, and “anything I could get my hands on… I liked it all.”
When asked why he stopped, he said: “You get panicked. You get panicked. I was 22 and I got panicked for my life.”
But after 23 years sober, he admitted in interviews last year to falling off the wagon and developing a heroin problem that led to a stint in rehab.
Hoffman is survived by his partner of 15 years, Mimi O’Donnell, and their three children.
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com:
- Interview: Executive Producer Amy Kule Previews Macy’s Fourth Of July Fireworks Spectacular
- Bus Strikes Pedestrian In Greenwich Village
- Competitive Eaters Weigh In Ahead Of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
- Man Suffers Serious Injuries In Brooklyn After Becoming Engulfed In Flames
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)