Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead in his New York apartment on Sunday, was hailed as the finest character actor of his generation but struggled with fame and addiction.
For more than 20 years Hoffman mesmerised, entertained and spell bound filmgoers with his portrayal of some of the most repellent and yet electrifying characters of the silver screen.
He transformed movies through calculatingly understated performances and his daring choice of roles, quietly stealing scenes from much bigger stars with his portrayals of misfits in films as diverse as Boogie Nights and The Talented Mr Ripley.
In 2006 he won an Oscar for his chilling turn as the brilliant but self-absorbed US author Truman Capote and was immediately flung into the A-list world of instantly recognised celebrities.
But, for all his success, Hoffman was reluctant in the limelight and in an interview with the Guardian published in October 2011 said he thought everyone struggles with self-love.
"I think that's pretty much the human condition, you know, waking up and trying to live your day in a way that you can go to sleep and feel OK about yourself," he was quoted as saying.
He spoke about his struggles with drink and drugs as a drama student at New York University, and reportedly checked himself back into rehab in 2013 after having a relapse with heroin.
Born Philip Hoffman in July 1967 in New York state, he was the third of four children of a Xerox executive and a feminist housewife. They divorced when he was nine.
Incorporating his grandfather's name, Seymour, between his given names, he made his big screen debut in a 1991 independent film called Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole.
In 1997, he made waves as a closeted gay crew member in Paul Thomas Anderson's porn industry tale Boogie Nights.
But it was perhaps in Anthony Minghella's thriller The Talented Mr Ripley that he made his true breakthrough.
Although cast alongside A-list favourites Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, he stole the show in a supporting role as the duplicitous preppie Freddie Miles.
The late Minghella described Hoffman as an extraordinary actor "cursed, sometimes, by his own gnawing intelligence, his own discomfort with acting".
Then came the 2005 biopic Capote, which put Hoffman centre stage on his own.
Bennett Miller's movie about the outspoken gay author saw Hoffman capture not only Capote's effete demeanour and high-pitched voice but also the powerful forces that drove him - and ultimately destroyed him - as an artist.
The film shows the famed Breakfast at Tiffany's writer holding court with fawning admirers in New York and manipulatively burrowing into the minds of two death row convicts.
He befriended the murderers to get material for the book that would be both his greatest work and his downfall as an author as he never finished another novel.
After Capote, Hoffman won three more Oscar nominations as a supporting actor playing a foul-mouthed CIA agent in Charlie Wilson's War in 2008, Doubt in 2009 and The Master in 2013.
In Doubt he was Father Flynn, an anguished Catholic priest suspected of molesting a teenage student.
Based on John Patrick Shanley's successful stage play, the film's best moments come when Hoffman's character wages verbal warfare with his accuser Sister Aloysius played by Meryl Streep.
He also had striking roles in Anderson's Magnolia, starring Tom Cruise (1999); in Flawless, in which he plays a melodramatic drag queen, opposite Robert De Niro; in Punch-Drunk Love; and in big-budget pictures like the 2003 Oscar winner Cold Mountain and 2006's Mission Impossible III.
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