Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Oscar-winning character-actor, was found dead in his New York apartment yesterday after suffering an apparent drugs overdose.
The 46-year-old actor who won Best Actor in 2005 for his portrayal of the author and journalist Truman Capote, was found dead in Manhattan's West Village by a visiting friend at around 11.30 am, according to official sources in New York.
Early reports said that officials from the Medical Examiner's office were still working to determine exact cause of death, however the source said that it "looked likely" that a drugs overdose was responsible.
It is understood a syringe was found in his arm. The actor's family said in a statement: "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone.
"This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers."
An envelope containing what appeared to be heroin was found at the actor's side, said the 'New York Times', citing police sources.
Last night, as police continued to work on the scene, reporters and television trucks gathered outside Hoffman's apartment in a six-storey building whose residents include Sarah Jessica Parker and Julianne Moore.
According to eye witnesses, his estranged wife visited earlier in the day and was visibly grief stricken. Neighbours stood in shock as they learnt the news.
One middle-aged woman who attended the same gym as Hoffman expressed sorrow that she had never invited him to join her at yoga classes.
"I always thought I should get him to join. He looked lonely," she said.
Another neighbour said he was often seen out and about with his young children, and would regularly take them to play in the community playground nearby.
In an extraordinary coincidence, reports of his death came only 24 hours after Hoffman's official spokesman was forced to deny internet rumours that the actor was dead.
Tributes quickly poured in for Hoffman who was renowned as a devoted master of his craft. John Hurt, the British actor, who starred alongside Hoffman in the 2003 drama 'Owning Mahowny', said the news had hit him "very hard".
"He was a great actor, a great member of the film and theatre community. An extraordinary talent, directorially as well as an actor. He'll be greatly missed," he said.
Mia Farrow, the actress and activist, described Hoffman as "one of our greatest actors"; while Jennifer Lawrence, who co-starred with Hoffman in his latest project, the 'Hunger Games' series, also paid tribute.
"Such an incredible actor. You played an excellent Plutarch. So sad," she said.
In an interview last May with the TMZ website, Hoffman, who was also nominated for three Best Supporting Actor Oscars, for 'The Master', 'Doubt', and 'Charlie Wilson's War', confessed that he had returned to using heroin after 23 years being 'clean'.
At the time, Hoffman appeared to be confident of conquering his addicting, crediting a "great group of friends and family" for helping him recover after he spent 10 days in a drug rehabilitation centre.
He leaves behind three children and his wife Mimi O'Donnell.
(©Daily Telegraph, London)
Peter Foster Washington and Katherine Rushton in New York