Hoffman, considered by many to be one of the finest actors of
his generation, was discovered in the bathroom of his Greenwich
Village apartment with a syringe in his arm.
"We're conducting the examination in the cause of the manner of
death," said Julia Bolcer, spokeswoman for the New York City
Medical Examiner. She added that she was not sure when the
results would be available.
One big question in the 46-year-old actor's sudden death: why a
talented man at a seemingly good point in his career apparently
returned to the drugs that had plagued him in his youth.
New York City police sources familiar with the investigation
said 50 small bags of what appeared to be heroin were found in
Hoffman's apartment. Authorities found other drugs, including a
medication for high blood pressure that is also used for
treating opiate withdrawal, the sources said.
Police were trying to determine the source of the substance that
apparently killed Hoffman and whether it was a deadly strain of
heroin laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate more
potent than morphine, sources said.
Erin Mulvey, a spokeswoman for the New York office of the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA), confirmed there has been "a
rash of heroin ODs in the Northeast" recently tied to the
The autopsy could explain how Hoffman apparently died soon after
injecting what seemed to be heroin. But the why was another
Although Hoffman was believed to have been sober for more than
20 years, Larissa Mooney, a physician and psychiatry professor
at the University of California, Los Angeles, said addiction is
a chronic brain disease.
"People, places and things that remind somebody of using can
take a powerful hold and lead users to relapse even after
treatment," Mooney said.
Tributes to Hoffman continued pouring in. Marquees of Broadway
theaters in New York will be dimmed on Wednesday night for one
minute in memory of the actor.
"He was a fixture in the neighborhood. It's heartbreaking," said
a tearful Tara Driver, an art education student who lived near
Hoffman's home in the West Village, part of Greenwich Village.
STRUGGLE WITH DRUGS
The death of Hoffman, who won the best actor Oscar for his role
in the 2005 biographical film "Capote," raised new concerns
about drug addiction in the entertainment industry.
If a heroin overdose is confirmed, Hoffman will join the list of
entertainers who have succumbed to drugs in the last decade.
"Glee" actor Cory Monteith, 31, died of an accidental overdose
of heroin and alcohol in October in Vancouver. Drugs were also
the cause of death of Australian actor Heath Ledger in 2008 and
singer Whitney Houston in 2012.
In decades past, overdoses from legal or illegal drugs have
claimed the lives of entertainers, including Marilyn Monroe,
John Belushi, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.
[to top of second column]
Hoffman spoke in the past of struggling with drugs,
including a 2006 interview in which he told CBS he had at times
abused "anything I could get my hands on. I liked it all."
Dr. Joseph Haraszti, a California-based addiction expert, said
Hoffman appeared to suffer for his profession.
"He also mentioned that acting for him was a very difficult
process," Haraszti said. "He would always take on the most difficult
roles, but it took a lot out of him."
John Tsilimparis, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles,
said fame, fortune and the pressure to perform and maintain an image
can be a lethal combination.
"In most occupations there are consequences for drug use, people
lose their jobs and livelihoods. But with celebrities, there is very
little forfeiture of career and money when you have an addiction.
There is less accountability," he said.
"BOUNDLESS AND PROFOUND TALENT"
Hoffman's family issued a statement on Sunday saying they were
devastated by his death. He is survived by three children and his
longtime partner Mimi O'Donnell.
Born in upstate New York near Rochester, the actor appeared on stage
and in films often portraying characters with innate intelligence
and logical minds driven by underlying passion.
In addition to his Academy Award Hoffman also received three Oscar
nominations as best supporting actor, for "The Master" in 2013,
"Doubt" in 2009 and "Charlie Wilson's War" in 2008.
He also appeared in blockbusters such as "Twister"
and was working on the final installment of "The Hunger Games." But
he was more often associated with the independent films such as
"Happiness," in which he played an obscene phone caller, and "Before
the Devil Knows You're Dead."
Hoffman earned Tony award nominations for his role as the main
character Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman," and for his parts in
"Long Day's Journey Into Night" and "True West."
"We'll always be grateful for his boundless and profound talent that
he shared with us on the Broadway stage," said Charlotte St. Martin,
executive director of the Broadway League.
Hoffman appeared last month at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah
for the premiere of the film "A Most Wanted Man," in which he played
German spy Gunther Bachmann. He was also set to star in a 10-episode
dark comedy for cable TV channel Showtime.
(Additional reporting by Chris
Francescani in New York and Eric Kelsey in Los Angeles; editing by
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.