Many younger moviegoers know him as Plutarch Heavensbee in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” and he was reprising that role in the two-part sequel, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay,” for which his work was mostly completed.
Lionsgate, which distributes the adaptations of Suzanne Collins’ multimillion-selling novels, called his death a tragedy and praised him as a “singular talent.” The last two “Hunger Games” movies are scheduled for release in November 2014 and November 2015.
Just weeks ago, Showtime announced Hoffman would star in “Happyish,” a new comedy series about a middle-aged man’s pursuit of happiness.
Born in 1967 in Fairport, N.Y., Hoffman was an athletic boy, but a neck injury suffered while wrestling ended any hopes of a career in sports. He soon became interested in acting, mesmerized at 12 by a local production of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.”
He studied theater as a teenager with the New York State Summer School of the Arts and the Circle in the Square Theatre. He then majored in drama at New York University.
In his Oscar acceptance speech in 2006 for “Capote,” he thanked his mother for raising him and his three siblings alone, and for taking him to his first play. Hoffman’s parents divorced when he was 9.
On Broadway, he took on ambitious parts like Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman,” Jamie in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” (his parents were played by Brian Dennehy and Vanessa Redgrave) and both leads in “True West.” All three performances were Tony nominated.
His 2012 work in “Death of a Salesman” was praised as “heartbreaking” by AP theater critic Mark Kennedy.
“Hoffman is only 44, but he nevertheless sags in his brokenness like a man closer to retirement age, lugging about his sample cases filled with his self-denial and disillusionment,” Kennedy wrote. “His fraying connection to reality is pronounced in this production, with Hoffman quick to anger and a hard edge emerging from his babbling.”