R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has died of a drug overdose. His personal assistant found him on the bathroom floor of a Manhattan apartment he had recently rented with a needle still in his arm. There was heroin nearby.

Hoffman had been struggling with drug issues since 2012, after being clean for more than 20 years. He last went through rehab in 2013.

Hoffman and his longtime partner, Mimi O'Donnell, had three children. He was nominated for an Oscar four times, and won Best Actor for "Capote." He had several current film projects on tap. [More...]

Hoffman was truly a great actor. Among his memorable performances: "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead", "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire", "Moneyball," "Capote", "Almost Famous", "Boogie Nights", "Cold Mountain," "The Talented Mr. Ripley", "Doubt", "The Master", "Synecdoche, New York", "Charlie Wilson's War", "Happiness", "Ides Of March", "Scent of a Woman" and "The Big Lebowski."

Two new films he appeared in premiered recently at Sundance: "A Most Wanted Man" and "God's Pocket." Last week Showtime announced he would be in its new series "Happyish," and he was also scheduled to repeat his role in the next two "Hunger Games" films.

As a writer at Salon says, "A Philip Seymour Hoffman film festival would take weeks, or a month.'

Very sad news indeed.
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    Re Arthur Miller's "Death of a (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 09:50:18 PM EST

    When Hoffman made his first entrance as Willy Loman carrying two sample cases you knew this man was world-weary and defeated.

    Brantley's review

    For me, (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 01:12:38 PM EST
    this is another reason for legalization - either at the pharmacy, or by prescription.

    People who choose to take heroin are at the mercy of dealers who can cut it with whatever they want.
    Clients have no way of knowing the degree of purity of that which they are about to ingest.

    So, people die who need not have died.

    Were this to be legal, doses could be accurately measured and people could know what they are taking.

    But the toxic union between enforced morality and the underworld continues to reign supreme.

    For me, my first thought when reading (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 01:21:24 PM EST
    Hoffman was found dead with a needle still in his arm was, perhaps the proponents of legalization of heroin will change their minds.

    Doesn't (none / 0) (#14)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:08:26 PM EST
    it say something to you to know that if Hoffman knew the exact quality and degree of purity of what he was injecting that he would still be alive? People only overdose if they do not know what they are taking. Wouldn't you prefer that Mr. Hoffman deal with a doctor or pharmacist than some scumbag out to make a buck?

    What you are saying is tantamount, imo, to saying that people who died from tainted bathtub gin in the 1920s or '30s should strengthen ones resolve to keep liquor illegal.


    the same thing.

    I am (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:56:10 PM EST
    under the impression that Oculus and I had diametrically opposed reactions to what happened to Mr. Hoffman.

    For me, it was a cry for legalization - for the reasons I stated above.

    For Oculus, it was a cry for the continuation of the current practice of keeping heroin illegal - and that those of us favoring legalization and control of heroin might change our minds.

    I think we were talking about the same thing - but had different conclusions.


    I am for legalization of pot (none / 0) (#19)
    by Slado on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:54:40 PM EST
    But at some level certain drugs should be illegal.

    There isn't a recreational way to use heroin.   It is almost instantly addictive and like other major drugs hurts people almost immediately.

    Alcohol is bad enough and ruins millions of lives.  

    What would happen with heroin if it was easily available and cheep?   Oooof.

    Here is a perfect lesson in unintended consequences.   Who exactly would sell it?  The state?   Because if not the state you'll have corporations selling it.    Think big bad Tabasco was bad?    They we're mean for selling cigarettes that kill you slowly.    How about heroin that can kill you quickly?

    I maintain that legalizing hard core drugs would ruin more lives then it already does in its illegal state.

    Pot is a different story.


    Heroin (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by lentinel on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 10:27:11 AM EST
    is a drug.

    It is addictive.

    However, what is killing people who become addicts is the uncertain quality of what they are consuming.

    If it were regulated, only available by doctor's prescription, it would become like other drugs. It's quality would be assured. People who chose to use heroin would be able to know exactly what they are taking - and what the effects would be. There would be no chance of taking something that is mixed with some other lethal chemical. There would be no chance of an accidental overdose.

    If it were by prescription, heroin would be no more available than it is now. And it would be much safer.

    The argument about "ruining lives" is valid, I suppose. But it is besides the point. People can "ruin" their lives in many different ways. Worse - people can ruin other peoples' lives - as politicians habitually do.

    The point is that should someone choose to "ruin" their life in a manner you condemn, they should be able to do so without fear of being needlessly killed by a product that is unregulated.


    Good points (none / 0) (#25)
    by ZtoA on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 11:09:38 AM EST
    But who is going to write the prescription? And what agency is going to test for quality assurance? Besides that it can't be done politically. Maybe the NRA will piggyback it onto gun rights. "Guns and heroin don't kill people, people do".

    Q and A (none / 0) (#30)
    by lentinel on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:13:31 PM EST
    Q.  Who is going to write the prescription?

    A. A doctor.

    Q.  What agency is going to test for quality assurance?

    A.  The FDA.


    Do you feel the same about pot? (none / 0) (#31)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:16:34 PM EST
    That is should only be with a prescription from a (real) doctor and tested for quality by the FDA?

    No. (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by lentinel on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:42:12 PM EST
    I don't feel the same way about pot.

    I have not heard of people dying from overdoses of pot. Have you?

    I do, however, think it should be legalized - principally so that its quality can be controlled and the user has a means of knowing what he or she is ingesting.

    I suggest you read a magnificent post on this subject by Jeralyn.



    Why would a doctor write a (none / 0) (#33)
    by vml68 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:54:25 PM EST
    prescription for heroin?
    Their job is to help cure/heal you, not enable an addiction.
    Doctors in this country are leery enough of prescribing strong painkillers, I can't imagine they would want to mess with heroin.

    You have (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by lentinel on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:49:55 PM EST
    to face facts:

    People are addicted to all sorts of things.
    Football, for example.
    Lives ruined - arguing in bars over plays and players. (Just kidding.)

    People are addicted to websites.
    To television.
    To sex.
    To food.

    We wink at some addictions, and condemn others.

    A controlled drug addiction is just that: controlled. People can live productive and long lives and be addicted to heroin. We have a chance to protect them by legalizing this substance and having a measure of control over its purity - as we do with other drugs - some of which are also addictive but are not associated with anything pleasurable.


    I am not arguing the legalization aspect (none / 0) (#38)
    by vml68 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:03:13 PM EST
    of it, just the notion that doctors should/would prescribe it.

    That all sounds good (none / 0) (#41)
    by Slado on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 10:07:54 PM EST
    But who is going to make and sell the drug?

    Right now there is a black market.   For it to be truly legal the state has to give licenses for its distribution and manufacturing.

    Who will those people be?  

    I'm all for not throwing addicts in jail and giving addicts clean needles and free counseling etc... But the next step to legalization is an enormous one.   And let's agree on some facts.  Not all drugs are created equal.   Some drugs are simply more addictive and harmful to the users and their families then others.

    It's a good theory that legalization would solve some problems but you can't ignore the problems that it would create.


    As to why a doctor might write (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by sj on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 07:07:22 PM EST
    ... a prescription for heroin: totally apart from treatment for addiction, there is a good use for it in pain management -- particularly for patients in the end stages of a terminal illness.

    My sister's father-in-law suffered terribly because his doctor wouldn't supply sufficient pain meds because "he might get addicted". I mean, seriously? The man was dying in excruciating pain. My sister still shudders when she thinks about it.


    I am sorry to hear about your sister's FIL. (none / 0) (#40)
    by vml68 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 08:00:53 PM EST
    I think some doctors worry so much about getting into trouble and the cost of their malpractice insurance that commonsense flies out the window.

    I've read that while heroin is more potent than morphine, the effect doesn't last long. So, I don't know how effective heroin would be for pain management as opposed to morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.


    It has been used in the UK ... (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by sj on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 11:23:14 PM EST
    ...for quite some time:
    Diacetylmorphine [heroin] continues to be widely used in palliative care in the United Kingdom, where it is commonly given by the subcutaneous route, often via a syringe driver, if patients cannot easily swallow oral morphine solution. The advantage of diacetylmorphine over morphine is that diacetylmorphine is more fat soluble and therefore more potent (by injection only), so smaller doses of it are needed for the same analgesic effect. Both of these factors are advantageous if giving high doses of opioids via the subcutaneous route, which is often necessary in palliative care.
    Diacetylmorphine is also used as a maintenance drug to treat certain groups of addicts, normally long term chronic IV heroin users, and even in these situations it is only prescribed following exhaustive efforts at treatment via other means. It is thought that heroin users can walk into a clinic and walk out with a prescription but the process takes many weeks before a prescription for Diacetylmorphine is issued. Though this is somewhat controversial among proponents of a zero tolerance drug policy, it has proven superior to methadone in improving the social and health situation of addicts.

    Emphasis mine.

    Thanks, sj. I guess I have more reading (none / 0) (#45)
    by vml68 on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 08:59:23 AM EST
    to do.

    How heroin kills you (none / 0) (#32)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:53:15 PM EST


    Heroin can also come with other toxic contaminants that can harm a user -- although deaths from such instances, while not unheard of, are thought to be rare.

    So, your purity test may not make much of a difference.


    See Jeralyn's (none / 0) (#37)
    by lentinel on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:54:14 PM EST
    post on this subject. (Tuesday Feb. 4)


    It is exhaustive and thorough.



    Based on old data (none / 0) (#43)
    by jbindc on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 06:48:46 AM EST
    From a 1973 (none / 0) (#44)
    by jbindc on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 06:52:56 AM EST
    dissenting opinion.

    The article I linked to has much newer data and links to reputable sources in medical periodicals.





    There is not a thing (none / 0) (#46)
    by sj on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 10:40:57 AM EST
    in your article that addresses the issue from the perpective of the opinion/post. Moreover, everything in your article is based on the current reality that diacetylmorphine is illicit (with all that implies).




    the dispensing of a gradually- (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 11:13:59 AM EST
    diminishing-over-time maintenance dose along with counseling and participation in support groups, seems like a much saner approach than the current state of affairs with it's criminal behavior in order to score, barbarous incarceration conditions, overdoses, and people having to go at all hours to war zone parts of the city to score.

    Of course, if you're a scorched earth libertarian with a kneejerk "why should I have to pay for it?!" mentality, think about the costs of all the jails and recidivism and relapses for lack of treatment you're paying for now..  


    as much as I agree with you and L (none / 0) (#34)
    by ZtoA on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:28:15 PM EST
    I just don't think doctors are going to want to prescribe a harmful addictive substance to anyone claiming s/he is an addict and then track their addiction and counseling. I doubt insurers want to cover it. I don't think pharmacies will want to store and dispense it. I don't think the FDA wants to inspect it.

    I don't think doctors should be prescribing heroin. If I asked my doctor for a prescription would I have to prove that I inhaled it (since I don't have needle marks) or that I am addicted? And, man, he would be all over me about what it might do to my blood pressure. It just will not happen.

    I can see decriminalizing it or lessening the criminal penalties requiring a rehab program rather than jail. But privatizing recovery will not work and won't stop the black market.


    Heroin ... (none / 0) (#1)
    by magster on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:59:01 PM EST


    RIP (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:05:25 PM EST
    It's a tough life. He probably needed the junk to free himself enough to act. He wouldn't be the first, hell, I know MANY highly paid writers in H-wood who swear they can't be truly creative without a chemical escape of some sort. Frees you from those invisible bonds of social constraint. Can't say I'm any different.

    See ya, Seymour, you were a great soul while we had you. Peace...

    He had been clean for 20 years (none / 0) (#4)
    by BeDazzled on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:30:54 PM EST
    Not sure I agree with your generalization.

    R.I.P. PSH - my deepest sympathy to his friends and family.


    According to quotes from the actor on imdb, (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:34:56 PM EST
    he stopped drinking alcohol. But would use most any available drug.  Very sad.

    Sad (none / 0) (#6)
    by BeDazzled on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:54:13 PM EST
    I didn't go to IMDB, just read the news release.

    Just downright sad. Thanks for the update.


    Can't agree with your post Dadler (none / 0) (#18)
    by Slado on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:41:37 PM EST
    The man died from a heroin overdose.  

    It is a sign that using heroin almost never ends well.

    The man had a problem with addiction and it took his life.  

    He did well to stay sober for 20 plus years according to his own words and during that time he became an amazing actor.   He didn't need heroin to be a better artist.  He used heroin because he had a problem with addiction.  

    Well never know why he lost his battle with sobriety but it wasn't because he needed it to be a better actor.  

    Addiction at some levels is a disease that once young people succumb to it it never leaves them.   His story should remind those struggling with addiction and the family and friends that support them that the fight is never truly over and letting down your guard can lead to tragic results.



    Oh, how terribly tragic and sad. (none / 0) (#3)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:17:51 PM EST
    Phillip Seymour Hoffman was one of the great character actors of our time. He will be very much missed, and may he rest in peace.

    Leaves behind three young children. Sad. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Angel on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 08:09:20 PM EST

    He was a great actor. So sad. (none / 0) (#9)
    by desertswine on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 10:44:41 PM EST
    I loved him in Lebowski.

    'Magnolia' was also a favorite of mine (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 12:39:48 PM EST
    I always looked forward to his next role...he will truly be missed.

    A.O. Scott has a tribute in (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 12:53:36 PM EST
    the NYT. He especially parses "The Master."

    OD (none / 0) (#17)
    by Mikado Cat on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:08:54 PM EST
    seems mostly from not knowing the strength of the stuff you buy, or a former heavy user thinking their old dose is still a proper amount.

    I recall reading that heroin is only a great high the first few times, and after that its dead end journey to recapture the original feeling which never happens.

    I have to wonder what leads a person to try heroin, that must be an unimaginable itch for nothing else to scratch it.

    I have the same question (none / 0) (#20)
    by Slado on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:59:59 PM EST
    I can only imagine it starts with pot and alcohol NAND them progresses.   Or it's peer pressure because a friend or family member is already doing it.

    Living in southern Indiana we are in the middle of a meth epidemic.   A drug that's everyone knows is made with propane and batteries.   People to my amazement still choose to smoke it.  

    I only imagine that there is a hurt there that pot and alcohol aren't strong enough to quench.   Makes me think that addiction is either biological at the start or brought on by severe mental issues or emotional pain.    

    How often do I say, " I need a drink. "? What happens when the drink is not enough?


    It seems to the ultimate (none / 0) (#21)
    by jondee on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:53:27 AM EST
    anti-anxiety drug for some people. I've known a couple of hardcore addicts over the years, the thing you always hear is that when you're on it, the only that bothers you is the thought of not being able to get any more.

    I think a big part of the problem is how we're educated to think about life in general and anxiety in particular. People now seem to automatically think there's something wrong with them if they experience any anxiety at all, or just as likely, they'll be full of anxiety over the possibility that others will see them as anxiety-ridden, jeopardizing their situation.
    So, as dysfunctional as the junkie may seem to us, for them heroin becomes the ultimate "performance enhancer"..Quite likely if we all deeply understood and accepted that neurosis and anxiety are integral aspects of the raw material of life -- important survival tools in fact, we could go a long way toward allowing each other to heal and be full human beings.


    Weird story.. (none / 0) (#22)
    by jondee on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 07:09:23 AM EST
    His mother is a Judge here and some years back, I accompanied one of those junkies I knew to a court appearance before her..

    How does anyone know... (none / 0) (#23)
    by unitron on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 07:53:25 AM EST
    ...that he died of a heroin overdose?

    Seems just as likely that he died of too much of whatever they cut it with.

    I'd never been a huge PSH fan, (none / 0) (#27)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 11:26:51 AM EST
    I often thought he was so "big" that he took over whatever scenes he was in, kinda like Robin Williams or James Woods.

    However, in looking at some of Hoffman's work yesterday, I am very impressed by his work in "Doubt."

    He certainly nailed (none / 0) (#28)
    by jondee on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 01:41:59 PM EST
    Truman Capone. Not an easy person to believably portray.

    Probably so. I saw a clip in which PSH was (none / 0) (#29)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:21:19 PM EST
    speaking in an impossibly high voice that was initially a little off-putting to me, however I assume that that is pretty much exactly how Capote talked in real life?