There was little mystery surrounding the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman—every obituary, be it stirring tribute or triumphant tabloid grist, reminds us that one of the greatest character actors of our time was apparently killed by an overdose of heroin, his body found with a needle jutting ingloriously from his arm. The answer to how he died seems to be unambiguous; what's much less clear is why.
The available explanations are grasping at straws. The actor was seen nodding off on a flight from Atlanta last week. He'd been drinking in a bar prior to the flight, and made repeated trips to the bathroom—but is that so odd? It's a detail that seems insubstantial, but then, a source apparently told TMZ that he'd been battling the drug for the past six weeks, that he'd been injecting it since December and couldn't seem to kick it. "If I don't stop I know I'm gonna die," he reportedly said.
The Post also reports that two weeks ago, while at the Sundance festival, Hoffman bluntly told a stranger, "I'm a heroin addict."
CNN has a detailed timeline of the hours leading up to his death. On Saturday morning, the actor ordered his usual four-shot espresso from a coffee shop near his Greenwich Village home—employees said he seemed "fine," and his assistant, who spoke with him soon after, said the same. His estranged girlfriend—mother to his three children—told authorities she saw him near his apartment, and that he "seemed high." She spoke with him later that evening, after he'd had dinner with some colleagues, confirming again that his behavior was amiss. His last known action was withdrawing $1,200 from ATMs near his home.
Authorities have uncovered nearly 50 envelopes of heroin around Hoffman's Bethune Street apartment, in addition to buprenorphine, which is used to treat addiction, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety meds and blood pressure pills. Some of the prescriptions were his, some were not. A bag of white powder is being tested for cocaine.
Hoffman checked himself into rehab in May when he found that his fondness for prescription pills had escalated to snorting heroin. Prior to that, he'd been clean for 23 years, but was never cagey about his feelings toward drugs. "It was all that (drugs and alcohol), yeah, it was anything I could get my hands on," he said in a 2006 interview. "I liked it all."
Authorities told the Post that by the time they found Hoffman in his bathroom on Sunday morning, it seemed as though he'd been there for hours. "He was cold," they said.