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.
- 'A marvellous work and a wonder': A look back...
- Co-pilot who reportedly crashed plane into...
- Woman reported kidnapped found safe after...
- Senate's Harry Reid announces he won't seek...
- 'Downton Abbey' to end after upcoming 6th season
- Alone at controls, Germanwings co-pilot...
- The Latest: Hospital says it evaluated...
- Therapists share healing powers of horses at...
- 'A marvellous work and a wonder': A... 60
- 'Maternal feminists' defend motherhood... 51
- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz targets... 44
- On 5th anniversary of health care law,... 33
- Senate's Harry Reid announces he won't... 30
- Alone at controls, Germanwings co-pilot... 27
- Sen. Mike Lee not ready to endorse Ted... 18
- Preparing for 2016 campaign, Hillary... 17