Philip Seymour Hoffman’s autopsy reexamined seven years after his sudden death

Philip Seymour Hoffman's death sent shockwaves through Hollywood seven years ago, when he died suddenly at the age of 46.

Determined to push his boundaries as an actor, US star was also acclaimed as a director and producer, making some of his most critically successful work in his final years.

Tragically, on February 2, 2014, he was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment in New York, leaving his peers and fans across the world heartbroken.

His death was the result of a drug overdose, with detectives reportedly discovering several bags of heroin inside his Manhattan home.

Born in a suburb of New York in the late 60s, his love for the stage began at the age of 12, when he was captivated by a production of an Arthur Miller play.

Studying drama in university, he launched his career in the early 90s with an appearance on Law & Order, only to enjoy his big break acting alongside Al Pacino in the film Scent of a Woman.

The film cemented his success as an actor, and he went on to appear in a number of glittering box office hits, including The Big Lebowski and The Talented Mr Ripley.

Later in his career, Hoffman started to experiment with independent cinema, before making his debut as a filmmaker in 2010 with the release of Jack Goes Boating.

His talent on the screen was recognised at the major Hollywood award ceremonies, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as the legendary writer Truman Capote in 2005's Capote.

Hoffman also received several nominations for Oscars, BAFTAs and Golden Globes, as well as Tony Award nominations for his Broadway performances.

However, away from the glitz and esteem of his professional life, Hoffman was known to battle substance abuse issues.

Speaking about his drug use in a 2006 interview with CBS News' 60 Minutes, he said: "I went [to rehab], I got sober when I was 22 years old.

"You get panicked … and I got panicked for my life."

Having faced addiction as a young adult, he practised abstinence for many years before a devastating relapse in 2012.

Two years later, he died of combined drug intoxication, with five empty bags – believed to previously contain heroin – discovered in his West Village apartment in New York.

At 11.15am on a Sunday morning, the actor was found unconscious in his home by his friend, the screenwriter David Bar Katz, who immediately called 911.

Sadly, when medics came to the scene, Hoffman was pronounced dead.

The award-winning screen star had been last seen at 8pm on the night before his death, and failed to pick up his children the following Sunday morning.

At the time, police told ABC News there were as many as 65 unused bags of the narcotic present in his apartment.

Police also uncovered syringes during their search of the premises, and Hoffman reportedly had one needle inside his arm at the time of his death.

Later that month, the New York medical examiner's office ruled he died of acute mixed drug intoxication, including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamine.

The examiner's office said the manner of his death was accidental.

Three years after his death, a candid essay for Vogue magazine, Hoffman’s girlfriend Mimi O'Donnell opened up about his tragic overdose.

She wrote: "From the beginning, Phil was very frank about his addictions. He told me about his period of heavy drinking and experimenting with heroin in his early 20s, and his first rehab at 22."

Recalling Hoffman’s subsequent struggles with addiction, checking into rehab twice, she added: "For the first time I realized that his addiction was bigger than either of us.

"I bowed my head and thought, I can’t fix this."

Hoffman was buried on February 7 in a private funeral in New York, with his close family and friends in attendance.

A number of Hollywood’s greats, including Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Joaquin Phoenix, made up the sombre funeral party, honouring the life and times of the revered actor.

  • Hollywood

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