Philip Seymour Hoffman’s longtime partner says she knew the Oscar-winning actor was flirting with death, as he relapsed into drug and alcohol addictions, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
In a personal and shocking essay published in Vogue, Mimi O'Donnell confessed she knew Hoffman was an addict, but always thought she could be the one to help him.
“From the beginning, Phil was very frank about his addictions. He told me about his period of heavy drinking and experimenting with heroin in his early 20s, and his first rehab at 22,” O’Donnell wrote. “Being sober and a recovering addict was, along with acting and directing, very much the focus of his life. But he was aware that just because he was clean didn’t mean the addiction had gone away.”
Indeed, the addictions resurfaced as his stardom took off, culminating with his overdose death in February 2014, while working on the final installment of the Hunger Games franchise.
“The first tangible sign came when, out of nowhere, Phil said to me, ‘I’ve been thinking I want to try to have a drink again. What do you think?’ she wrote. “I thought it was a terrible idea, and I said so. Sobriety had been the center of Phil’s life for over 20 years, so this was definitely a red flag.
“He started having a drink or two without it seeming a big deal, but the moment drugs came into play, I confronted Phil, who admitted that he’d gotten ahold of some prescription opioids. He told me that it was just this one time, and that it wouldn’t happen again. It scared him enough that, for a while, he kept his word.
Hoffman swore that it wouldn’t happen again, and for a while, kept his word. But not too long after making that pledge, he was back shooting heroin again.
“As soon as Phil started using heroin again, I sensed it, terrified. I told him, ‘You’re going to die. That’s what happens with heroin.’ Every day was filled with worry. Every night, when he went out, I wondered: Will I see him again?”
The renewed addiction forced O’Donnell to kick him out of the house they shared with their three children. Instead, Hoffman moved into an apartment nearby, and cut himself off from the outside world.
“Sometime in January, Phil started isolating himself. He was in Atlanta filming The Hunger Games. I called and texted him and said, ‘I’m here to talk,’ she admitted. “We began making plans to set up another rehab as soon as the movie wrapped, but I knew we had a difficult path ahead of us.”
Sadly, the rehab would never come. Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment in 2014. Bags of heroin and syringes were found surrounding him.
“It happened so quickly. Phil came home from Atlanta, and I called a few people and said that we needed to keep an eye on him. Then he started using again, and three days later he was dead.
When I look back at how close we all were, I wonder whether Phil somehow knew that he was going to die young,” O’Donnell concluded. “He never said those words, but he lived his life as if time was precious. Maybe he just knew what was important to him and where he wanted to invest his love. I always felt there was plenty of time, but he never lived that way.”
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