Stars attend private funeral for Hoffman

by Mariano Andrade, AFP

Posted at Feb 08 2014 08:04 AM | Updated as of Feb 09 2014 04:48 AM

Philip Seymour Hoffman. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

NEW YORK - A-list stars Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett joined hundreds of mourners at the private funeral on Friday of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of an apparent heroin overdose.

Fellow actors Ethan Hawke, Justin Theroux and Joaquin Phoenix, and filmmaker Spike Lee were also among the mourners at the mass at New York's Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue.

A black hearse drove up to the imposing entrance of the church and pall bearers carried the coffin up the steps at noon watched by Hoffman's partner Mimi O'Donnell and their three children.

Hoffman, 46, who was hailed by many as the finest character actor of his generation, was found dead on Sunday at his rented Manhattan apartment.

In a career spanning more than 20 years and 50 films, Hoffman mesmerized filmgoers with his portrayal of some of the most repellent and yet electrifying characters of the silver screen.

He won an Oscar in 2006 for his portrayal of author Truman Capote in "Capote" and won three further Academy Award nominations as best supporting actor in 2008, 2009 and 2013.

Dozens of cameramen, photographers and reporters waited outside the church, which also held the 1994 funeral of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the wife of assassinated US president John F. Kennedy.

The mass was closed to the press. Only those on the guest list were authorized to enter the church, heavily guarded by police.

A public memorial service is expected at the end of the month.

The results of an autopsy on Hoffman's body on Monday were inconclusive and medical examiners are awaiting the results of further tests to determine the precise cause of his death.

Police said Hoffman was found with a needle in his arm, and there were 50 envelopes of heroin, syringes and other pills in the apartment.

At least three people have been arrested and charged as part of the investigation into Hoffman's death.

The actor, who struggled with fame and addiction, admitted to falling off the wagon in 2012, after two decades of sobriety, starting with prescription pills and escalating to heroin use.

He was last seen on Saturday and O'Donnell raised the alarm when he failed to show up to see his children as planned early Sunday.

She was quoted by US media as saying he was high when she last saw him and spoke with him on Saturday.

Hoffman had been cast as game master Plutarch Heavensbee in the final two installments of the blockbuster "Hunger Games" series but had one final week of filming and a crucial scene to finish.

The Hollywood Reporter quoted a source close to the project as saying there are plans "that don't seem very complicated" to complete both pictures without Hoffman.

"You can do digital things, you can have conversations where you're not focusing on him but the people he's talking to," the source was quoted as saying.

Rob Legato, a veteran effects supervisor, said technology is most likely good enough to generate a convincing image of Hoffman, though some scenes might need to be rewritten.

"I won't say you could generate a Philip Seymour Hoffman with all the acting ability, but you could certainly replicate him for a shot or two," he was quoted as saying by the Reporter.

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