Philip Seymour Hoffman profile
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Pirate Radio"
Philip Seymour Hoffman

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It's probably safe to say without equivocation that Philip Seymour Hoffman – above the title of celebrity or movie star – is an actor, and one of the best of his generation. With his Oscar for the 2005 biopic "Capote" capping a certain part of Philip's career, critics pondered how he would handle the promotion to leading roles. Could he still play quirky, creepy characters and have audiences love him while still thinking they're better than him? Part of Hoffman's charm, going as far back as "Scent of a Woman," was that he exposed the flaws of his characters so well and so humanly that audiences recognized a Hoffman character as "that guy." And for an actor to have 45 credits to his name by the age of 40 – some extremely indie and some major blockbusters – is not only a prolific marvel, but a testament to Hoffman's strength as an actor in making each role unique.


Born in a small village called Fairport near Rochester, New York in 1967, Hoffman's parents divorced when he was nine. His older brother by two years, Gordy, would go on to write the 2002 film "Love Liza," in which Philip had the lead. By 1989, he had his BFA in Drama from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Also at the age of 22, Philip entered a New York treatment program and has been sober since. In interviews, he says he couldn't imagine the pressure of fame, money and attention young stars receive, and says that rehab saved him from spinning out of control. His first screen appearance came in 1991 on an episode of "Law & Order," and by 1992, he was seen in four movies, including his memorable turn as George Willis, Jr. in "Scent of a Woman." It would be 1997 in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights" in which Philip, as Scotty, would establish himself as a reliable and strong supporting actor. Anderson would employ him again as the male nurse servicing a dying Jason Robards in "Magnolia" in 1999, the same year he played opposite De Niro in "Flawless" and Matt Damon in "The Talented Mr. Ripley."

It would be the turn of the decade in which Philip began emerging as a powerful leading man – and just a matter of time before the deserved accolades, awards and attention would arrive. 2002 was a major year for the actor, as he snagged the lead roles in the small indie pictures "Love Liza" and "Owning Mahowny," as well as supporting roles in P.T. Anderson's "Punch-Drunk Love" and Spike Lee's "25th Hour." He was nominated for an Oscar only once to date – and won it – for "Capote" in 2005. Embodying the real-life writer's mannerisms and voice, it was a mesmerizing tour-de-force performance. The follow up was as Owen Davian in "Mission: Impossible III," proving that any role given him, he relishes. A Tony Award nominee, Philip also has a passion for theater, and often directs for the off-Broadway stage. It was on the play "In Arabia We'd All Be Kings" in 1999 where he met his girlfriend Mimi O'Donnell. They now have two children.

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Philip on the Web

Thorough database of Philip's work, with links, stills and a message board.

Medium sized biography of Hoffman, focusing on his career.

Philip on the Screen

He started on an episode of "Law & Order" in 1991 and was Klutch in "Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole" that same year. He's in four films in 1992: "Szuler," "My New Gun," the Steve Martin comedy "Leap of Faith," and "Scent of a Woman." He's in four P.T. Anderson pictures – "Hard Eight," "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia," and "Punch-Drunk Love" – Dustin Davis in the Bill Paxton adventure "Twister," Brandt in the Coen Brothers' "The Big Lebowski," the drag artist Rusty in "Flawless," and the screenwriter Joseph Turner White in David Mamet's "State and Main." In "Almost Famous," he's rock critic Lester Bangs, the Mattress Man Dean Trumbell in "Punch-Drunk Love," the gossip reporter Freddy Lounds in "Red Dragon," schoolteacher Elinsky in "25th Hour," the preacher in the Civil War epic "Cold Mountain, and won an Oscar for "Capote." More recently, the actor has appeared in dramas like "Doubt," "Synecdoche, New York," "The Ides of March" and "Moneyball," and also starred in his directorial debut "Jack Goes Boating."

"Boogie Nights" (1997)
Philip is brilliant in this Paul Thomas Anderson film about the adult film industry in the late 70s and early 80s, working with an all-star cast that included Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, Heather Graham and Julianne Moore. He's hilarious as Scotty in practically every scene that he appears, and the scene where we're introduced to his character is priceless with “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate playing in the background.

Philip Says

On Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia:
"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."

On his physical appearance:
"The foibles of my body are pretty much out there in the work I do."

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