He was nominated for the 2013 Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in "The Master" as the charismatic leader of a religious movement. The film, inspired in part by the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, reunited the actor with Anderson.
He also received a 2009 best-supporting nomination for "Doubt," as a priest who comes under suspicion because of his relationship with a boy, and another best-supporting nomination as a CIA officer in "Charlie Wilson's War."
Born in 1967 in Fairport, N.Y., Hoffman was interested in acting from an early age, 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 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.
He could seemingly take on any role, large or small, loathsome or sympathetic, and appeared to be utterly lacking in vanity.
On Broadway, in addition to starring as Willy Loman, he played Jamie in "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and both leads in "True West." All three performances were Tony-nominated.
His 2012 performance 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."
Two films starring Hoffman premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival: the espionage thriller "A Most Wanted Man" and "God's Pocket."
Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela and AP National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report from New York.
- Jason Chaffetz: Mitt Romney is leaving door...
- Scholarship lotteries, popular with everyone,...
- Vikings place Adrian Peterson on exempt list,...
- Striking or spanking a child is not a...
- Wearing this one thing can help boost a...
- US tobacco growers brace for tougher competition
- Top 15 states for education
- School police stock up on free military gear
- Jason Chaffetz: Mitt Romney is leaving... 68
- US wealth gap putting the squeeze on... 26
- Obama 'confident' of Islamic State... 19
- Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert eyes more... 12
- Chicago, NY, Hawaii on Obama library's... 12
- President Obama: Ebola outbreak a... 12
- School police stock up on free military... 10
- US won't rule out working with Iran... 6