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February 3rd, 2014
08:37 PM ET

Philip Seymour Hoffman, in his own words

He was a beefy 5-foot-10 but won an Oscar for playing the slight, 5-foot-3 Truman Capote. He had the booming voice of a deity but often played schlubs and conflicted characters.

He could be heartfelt and giving, as with his male nurse in "Magnolia" or rock critic in "Almost Famous," or creepily Machiavellian, such as the game master in the latest "Hunger Games" movie.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was an actor who could be anybody.

"I don't know how he does it," director Mike Nichols told The New York Times Magazine in 2008. Nichols directed Hoffman on both stage ("The Seagull," "Death of a Salesman") and screen ("Charlie Wilson's War").

"Again and again, he can truly become someone I've not seen before but can still instantly recognize. ... He may look like Phil, but there's something different in his eyes. And that means he's reconstituted himself from within, willfully rearranging his molecules to become another human being."

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