In a very raw magazine essay, the longtime partner of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has detailed the relapse that led to his 2014 death.
In the piece published in Vogue, the costume designer turned director-producer speaks candidly of the Oscar winner’s troubles.
Mimi O’Donnell, the mother of Hoffman’s three children, writes of happy times — when she met him while interviewing to be a costume designer for a production he was directing and falling in love “artistically first,” as they were in relationships with other people.
“Working with Phil felt seamless — our instincts were so similar,” she writes, “and we always seemed to be in sync.”
The pair began dating in 2001, and O’Donnell says Hoffman was “very frank about his addictions.” His past included drinking heavily and experimenting with heroin, but O’Donnell writes that he was in therapy and AA.
“Being sober and a recovering addict was, along with acting and directing, very much the focus of his life,” she writes. “But he was aware that just because he was clean didn’t mean the addiction had gone away.”
Giving a taste of the challenges Hoffman faced, O’Donnell says they involved reaching middle age, seeing the crumbling of friends’ marriages after unfaithfulness, his longtime therapist succumbing to cancer, falling-outs with pals in AA and “a love/hate relationship with acting.”
O’Donnell says Hoffman came to her asking what she thought of him beginning to drink, a moment she identifies as “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,” she says.
But after tackling the role of Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman,” O’Donnell says he began using “prescription stuff,” which he denied. When O’Donnell “sensed” he began using heroin, she confronted him. “I told him, ‘You’re going to die. That’s what happens with heroin,’ ” she recalls. “Every day was filled with worry. Every night, when he went out, I wondered: Will I see him again?”
After time in rehab that didn’t take, Hoffman moved into an apartment close to the family dwelling and that fall returned to rehab.
O’Donnell says that Hoffman began “isolating himself” while in Atlanta to shoot “The Hunger Games” and when he returned, she tapped people to “keep an eye on him.”
“Then he started using again,” she says, “and three days later he was dead.”
O’Donnell says the expectation of his passing didn’t soften the blow. “I had been expecting him to die since the day he started using again, but when it finally happened it hit me with brutal force,” she says. “I wasn’t prepared. There was no sense of peace or relief, just ferocious pain and overwhelming loss.”
She says her children pulled her through the grief.
“What got me out of bed every morning and…