Philip Seymour Hoffman: An acting 'treasure' and the roles that defined him

Philip Seymour Hoffman was hailed as one of the best actors of our time by his peers, his industry, and the general public. The 46-year-old Oscar winner and Tony nominee began acting in high school, where he played Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman," a role he would reprise on Broadway in 2012 and earn his third Tony nomination. As a young actor, he caught his big break on a 1991 episode of Law & Order in which he played a defendant in a gang-rape case. 

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    PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN

    Philip Seymour Hoffman

    Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment at the age of 46.

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    Philip Seymour Hoffman -

    Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment. Hoffman, 46, won an Acedemy Award for best actor for 2005's "Capote." He was nominated for Oscars three other times for "The Master," "Doubt" and "Charlie Wilson's War."

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    Law & Order -

    Hoffman played the character Steven Hanauer on an episode of "Law & Order" in 1991.

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    Scent of a Woman -

    Hoffman played a supporting role in the 1992 film "Scent of a Woman," a drama that was nominated for three Golden Globes. The film starred Al Pacino, who won the Academy Award for best actor for his role in the film.

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    Boogie Nights -

    Hoffman played the role of Scotty J., a shy and overweight member of a film crew, in the 1997 film "Boogie Nights." The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, and won a Golden Globe.

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    The Talented Mr. Ripley -

    Hoffman played the role of Freddie Miles, in the 1999 movie "The Talented Mr. Ripley." The film, which was adapted from a book, was nominated for five Oscars.

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    Magnolia -

    In the 1999 film "Magnolia," Hoffman played a nurse, Phil Parma. The director of the film, Paul Thomas Anderson, was also the writer and director of the film "Boogie Nights," which was released two years earlier and featured Hoffman as a supporting character.

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    Punch-Drunk Love -

    "Punch-Drunk Love" was a 2002 romantic comedy, in which Hoffman played a supporting role as a man who doubled as the owner of a mattress store and the manager of a phone-sex line.

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    Capote -

    In this undated publicity photo released by Sony Pictures Classics, Hoffman portrays writer Truman Capote in a scene from the film, "Capote." He won a best actor Oscar in 2005 for his work in the film.

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    Best Actor -

    Hoffman poses with the Oscar he won for best actor for his work in "Capote" at the 78th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 5, 2006, in Los Angeles.

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    Mission: Impossible III -

    Hoffman played an arms dealer under investigation in the 2006 film "Mission: Impossible III" alongside actor Tom Cruise.

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    Charlie Wilson's War -

    Hoffman starred in the 2007 drama "Charlie Wilson's War," which recounted the story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson and his partnership with a CIA operative. Hoffman played the CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, and was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for that performance.

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    Doubt -

    In this image released by Miramax Film Corp., Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as Father Flynn, right, and Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius, left, in a scene from "Doubt." The 2008 film was nominated for five Oscars and five Golden Globes.

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    Moneyball -

    Hoffman played the Art Howe, the Athletics' manager, in the 2011 film "Moneyball," which told the story of the Oakland A's baseball team.

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    The Ides of March -

    In the 2011 political drama "The Ides of March," Hoffman played Paul Zara, a senior campaign manager for the Governor of Pennsylvania, played by George Clooney. Ryan Gosling, who played the junior campaign manager, also starred in the film.

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    The Master -

    With a whopping 75 nominations for various awards, the 2012 film "The Master" featured Hoffman as a leader of philosophical movent known as "The Cause." Hoffman was nominated for an Oscar for his work in the film.

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    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire -

    This image released by Lionsgate shows Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, left, and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

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    A Most Wanted Man -

    This photo provided by the Sundance Institute shows Philip Seymour Hoffman, right, and Rachel McAdams, front, in a scene from the film, "A Most Wanted Man," which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. After appearing in over 50 movies, 46-year-old Hoffman says working on “A Most Wanted Man” was one of the most satisfying movie-making experiences he’d ever had.

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He went on to dazzle both on the big screen and on stage, with memorable genre-crossing roles that defied typecasting. He was as brilliant in "Capote," for which he earned an Oscar, as he was a standout in "Boogie Nights" or "The Big Lebowski." Jeff Bridges, who starred in "Lebowski" issued a statement about Hoffman's death, praising him as "a wonderful guy" and "a real treasure." Hoffman also did franchise well, most recently, as the Games puppet master Plutarch Heavensbee in the recent “Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

Hoffman earned three other Oscar nominations and three Tony nominations, but he never became a "movie star," and he never saw himself as being on top of his game. As he told CBS News in 2012: "The thing about acting is that whenever you start to think you’re good at it, something happens and you're like, oh god that was really bad. "Acting is not something you get good at and stay good at."

The world disagrees, at least, where he was concerned. Here are a few of Hoffman's best roles.

"Boogie Nights," 1997
On playing awkward gay porn fanboy Scotty, Hoffman told CBS News: "Scotty’s got some issues, yeah, As tormented as that guy is, I had the best time in the world. I had a great time. We had a great time. That was a great, great job."

"The Talented Mr. Ripley," 1999
Hoffman stole the movie playing the creepy Freddie, who is killed by Tom Ripley (Matt Damon). But he wasn't completely comfortable with the attention he was getting. "You get more recognition, yeah, it’s all good," he said at a press junket for the film. "I don’t want to make more out of it than it is or assume that it’s more than what it is. But obviously it's getting better and that’s good."

"Capote," 2005
When Hoffman was offered the role of eccentric writer Truman Capote, he wasn't sure he wanted it. He didn't think he could pull it off. 

"I, like everyone else, was why would I be the guy to play that part? I’m so far away from him in so many different ways...Then you realize that your guts leads the way." 

It led to an Oscar for best lead actor. 

"Charlie Wilson's War," 2007
As a potty-mouthed wisecracking CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, Hoffman earned a supporting actor Oscar nomination.

"Doubt," 2008
Hoffman earned another supporting actor Oscar nomination playing a priest who is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a boy opposite Meryl Streep.

"The Master," 2012
Hoffman's final Oscar nomination came in his role opposite Joaquin Phoenix playing a charismatic cult leader.

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